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'It's not safe': Pot shop owners increasingly hiring armed guards after fatal Tacoma robbery

Jordan Brown, 29, was shot and killed during a robbery at the World of Weed Cannabis Retailer in Tacoma last Saturday.

TACOMA, Wash. — A family is in mourning after an employee at a marijuana store in Tacoma was shot and killed by a robber last weekend.

It's the latest in a string of robberies around western Washington and the third fatality connected to a pot shop robbery within a week.

Just after 10 p.m. last Saturday, South Sound 911 received a call of an armed robbery at the World of Weed Cannabis Retailer on Portland Avenue. Officers found an employee with a life-threatening gunshot wound.

Despite life-saving measures, the Tacoma Fire Department pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

Family members identified the victim as 29-year-old Jordan Brown, who now grieve over a life taken too soon.

“He was a very talented young man," said Brown’s aunt, Yolanda Mathaeo. "He was writing his own music and was hopefully starting to produce his own music."

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Private security firms report that since Saturday’s shooting, they’re getting more calls from dispensaries for their services, and they want their security armed.

“The owners that I’ve been in contact with, their main priority is protecting their employees,” said Maria Quinci, human resources manager for E&E Private Protection Services. “I’ll give you an example of our newest contract: they were originally wanting four locations, unarmed at night time. That conversation has changed to being fully staffed from open to close, armed security positions at all locations.”

Owners said since dispensaries are thought to have a lot of cash in the store, that makes them ripe targets for robbers.

Duane Dunn, the owner of Tacoma’s Emerald Leaves, hopes the regulations surrounding firearms in dispensaries will change soon because armed security is not cheap.

“It’s between $30-$50 an hour for an armed security guard, which is an additional $100,000 on the bottom line,” explained Dunn. “Some business owners decide to do it and some don’t.”

However, after so many targeted robberies, many dispensary owners are changing their minds, and for now, it’s worth the expense, Quinci said.

“It is expensive to have armed security, but I think the price is worth it to them, and they’re seeing why they need it at this time,” he said. “We’re not ever a company to push to do armed if the comfort zone is unarmed, but at this time, it feels like that’s what’s necessary.”

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