A man accused of killing four people at an illegal Oklahoma marijuana farm last month opened fire after demanding employees give him $300,000 as a return for his “investment” in the illegal operation, prosecutors said.
Wu Chen, 45, was formally charged Friday with four counts of first-degree felony murder and one count of assault and battery with a deadly weapon in the Nov. 20 attack at the Kingfisher County farm.
He is accused of killing Chinese nationals Quirong Lin, Chen He Chun, Chen He Qiang and Fang Hui Lee and injuring Yi Fei Lin, according to charging documents.
A filing requesting Chen be held on no bond revealed how he demanded $300,000 from employees at the farm and “within minutes” opened fire, killing the four, wounding the fifth victim, and “took shots at, but missed, a sixth.”
“That fact that it could not be handed over on a moment’s notice was what precipitated the mass murder,” the filing said.
It’s not clear why Chen wanted the money at that time. The filing identified him as a Chinese national “with no binding ties to Oklahoma outside of his criminal activity.”
Prosecutors said some of the crime was caught on video footage, and eyewitnesses who knew Chen identified him as the shooter.
After the killings, Chen then fled by car to Miami, where he was found Nov. 22 when a license plate reader flagged his vehicle. He was captured and extradited to Oklahoma.
Chen was booked into the Kingfisher County Justice Center on Thursday and remains in custody, online jail records show. It’s not immediately clear if he has an attorney.
“His conduct shows him to be an intolerably dangerous criminal, ready to take human life at a moment’s notice, and the witnesses he has left alive would be in very real danger if he were allowed to be free on bond,” the request for no bond stated.
He was allegedly involved in the “illegal industrial-scale marijuana grow operation” at the farm, located west of Hennessey, a town about 50 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.
Prosecutors warned in the filing that such enterprises “generate huge sums of income,” largely in cash, which makes it unaccountable, and such money could aid Chen in fleeing the state and country.
The marijuana farm has since been seized by law enforcement, the filing stated.
NBC News has reached out Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs regarding the status of the farm.
A neighbor, Brandon Walker, said the property used to be a dairy farm but was sold in recent years to an investment company, which sold the land again before it was converted to a grow operation.
Since Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, more than 10,000 businesses have been licensed and 1 in 10 residents have gotten cards allowing them to buy the product.
In May, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill temporarily blocking new dispensary and processing licenses. The move came after lawmakers said commercial operations that included out-of-state and foreign growers were exploiting in-state residency requirements and limited enforcement resources.
Law enforcement officials have reported a rise in black market operators using suspected human trafficking victims, including Chinese nationals, to grow and trim marijuana sold in legal dispensaries.