RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An investigation is underway after Richmond Police executed a search warrant at a Happy Trees warehouse event Thursday night.
Authorities originally told 8News that the warrant was for narcotics. Specifically, the search warrant noted that police were at the scene to investigate possession with intent to distribute marijuana and psilocybin.
Agricultural supplier Happy Trees has a warehouse on Roane Street, just off Chamberlayne Road, where it was holding its Tree Trade Thursday event. Happy Trees Co-Founder Josiah Ickes told 8News on Friday that authorities arrived at the scene shortly after 5 p.m. and were there for several hours.
“Our background is that we’re an agricultural supply store, and we help bring the community together, and that’s been our big focus,” he said. “We’re really saddened by what happened yesterday because we really feel like it was some type of mistaken identity.”
When asked for comment on the incident, a Richmond Police spokesperson said that the investigation was ongoing and that they could not specify whether anyone was arrested.
But Brandon Fountain, who said he was at Thursday night’s event, described dozens of customers and vendors being zip-tied, while some were handcuffed.
“It’s terrifying,” he said. “We pay taxes. We listen to the rules and the laws that [are] set before us, and we do the best that we can to obtain by them, and then we still get raided.”
Fountain said that event attendees were taken outside the warehouse where they were questioned and searched before being released.
“We are grateful that RPD [Richmond Police Department] has not made any arrests at this point, and we appreciate that they’re not interested in disrupting the community,” Ickes said. “It was shocking, just how kind of heavy everything occurred.”
Individuals who said they were at this Tree Trade Thursday event told 8News that police seized marijuana, U.S. currency, and paraphernalia, among other items, but that any search for illicit substances such as cocaine came up empty.
Additional details remain limited without comment from Richmond Police as Happy Trees and its members await the next steps. The Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office also noted that it did not have further information.
“For the community, hopefully, as a whole, we can get certain laws passed and a lot of agreement between politics and community smokers to [the] point where we just continue to have events like this and in a closed environment and in public,” Fountain said. “It just was a bad feeling.”