Four men have been arrested in the kidnapping and murder of a Santa Cruz tech executive—including two former employees of the mogul’s cannabis business, authorities said.
The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office announced on Thursday evening that investigators have identified four individuals they believe were involved in the robbery-gone-wrong that led to the death of Tushar Atre, the 50-year-old founder of AtreNet.
Atre was kidnapped on Oct. 1, 2019, from the waterfront Pleasure Point home he shared with his girlfriend. He was found fatally shot several hours later at a property he owned in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“These people wanted monetary gain and took advantage of the situation,” Santa Cruz Sheriff Lt. Brian Cleveland said at a Thursday night press conference. While he declined to provide details of the failed robbery or who pulled the trigger, he described the slaying as a “heinous and senseless crime.”
The suspects—Joshua Camps, 23; Kurtis Charters, 22; Kaleb Charters, 19; and Steven Lindsay, 22—were arrested at their homes last week. According to the sheriff’s office, three of the four are being held in Santa Cruz County jail on suspicion of murder, robbery, and kidnapping while Kaleb Charters will be booked on similar charges following his extradition from Michigan.
“This man was sleeping in his home, people entered the home, kidnapped him, and murdered him,” Santa Cruz Sheriff Jim Hart said Thursday.
Atre was best known as the founder and CEO of AtreNet, a successful internet development and marketing company. The 50-year-old also owned the cannabis business Interstitial Systems.
Authorities say that on Oct 1., Atre was kidnapped from his Central California home by at least three suspects. The kidnappers drove the 50-year-old away in his own white BMW SUV. Hours later, at around 9 a.m., authorities found the web developer’s body about 45 minutes away from his home—at a property where he operated a cannabis-manufacturing facility. The Santa Cruz County Coroner confirmed Atre died of a gunshot wound and ruled his death a homicide.
Surveillance footage released in November shows three men emerge from an alley and approach Atre’s home at 2:48 a.m. One of the assailants, authorities said, was armed with a rifle.
“We believe this was a robbery for monetary value,” Cleveland said. “We do believe this was a planned event.”
Cleveland confirmed Thursday that Kaleb Charters and Lindsay were employees of Atre’s marijuana business. The Charters are brothers and Camp is a “known associate” of the group, he added, noting that none of the four suspects had a criminal history.
Hart said that “compelling” evidence against the four men will now be presented to the district attorney for consideration on charges. The sheriff also thanked Atre’s family and friends for their patience as investigators probed the incident last October, logging over 3,000 hours of work to figure out the truth.
“The expectation of the family was that this case was going to be resolved quickly, efficiently, and justice was going to be served,” Hart said. “But when you look at the evidence we had on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2—We had a murder scene on Soquel San Jose Road. We had kidnapping and home invasion scene at Pleasure Point, and we had a really grainy video. That was it.”