Tempe Cannabis Club Under Investigation has Shooting; Employee Wounded, Three or More Suspects on Loose

A Tempe cannabis club that was raided last year and has been under an ongoing investigation by police was the site of a shooting last night.

At least three suspects, and possibly as many as six, are still on the loose after an employee at the club was shot at about 7:20 p.m., cops say. The employee was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police say the club, Top Shelf Meds, is the same place that was formerly known as AZ Go Green Co-Op.

AZ Go Green, at 426 East Southern Avenue, was raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency in September of 2011, but no federal charges ever emerged. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne dropped the charges against the co-op's owners, James Chaney (below) and Rachel Beeder. The AG gave no reason for his decision, which was unexpected given that he'd previously stated that he believes cannabis clubs are not legal under Arizona's 2010 medical-marijuana law. He sued several clubs last year, asking a judge to rule that the clubs were breaking the law. However, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink never got the chance -- Horne settled with the clubs in the case after they agreed to stop operating.

AZ Go Green wasn't one of the clubs in the lawsuit, but has been under scrutiny for at least a year.

Before the 2011 raid, authorities had sent in undercover agents to pose as patients and make buys. Since then, the place has been the focus of an investigation by Tempe police.

Another raid seems likely to happen soon, especially now that a shooting has occurred.

But rather than sending in armed officers to round up the club employees providing a service for state-registered medical-marijuana patients, perhaps police should simply offer to provide off-duty police to help with security, like they do for bars.

Here's the latest bulletin from Tempe PD, e-mailed to the media about 45 minutes ago:

At approximately 7:20 p.m., multiple suspects entered the Top Shelf Med (formerly AzGoGreen) and confronted the victim who is an employee for the business. The victim was struck and then shot by one of the suspects.

The suspects fled on foot, and are described as somewhere between three and six black males. One of the suspects is described as being in his early 20s with a thin build. The intentions of the suspects are unknown; investigators are not aware of any property removed from the business. The suspects remain outstanding.

The victim was treated by Tempe Firefighters and transported to a local hospital where he remains with life-threatening injuries.

Top Shelf Med operates to some degree as a medical marijuana coop. Tempe detectives assisted the DEA in a previous investigation approximately one year ago regarding distribution of marijuana. Recently, the Tempe Police Department has initiated a separate investigation into the activities of the business. This current investigation remains active and ongoing.

The Tempe Police Department is requesting anyone with information regarding the shooting last night to contact either the Tempe Police Department at (480) 350-8311 or Silent Witness at (480) WITNESS.

Unless there is a major development, no additional updates are anticipated regarding the investigation today or through the weekend. This includes the identity of the victim.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.