One Gro Chief Executive Officer Dan Isaacson was shocked when he heard someone was fatally shot at his Cedar Park Road marijuana grow facility in Cottage Grove last week.
It was Isaacson’s best friend, Joey Loop, 40, of Cottage Grove. They grew up together in Southern Oregon and Loop was one of One Gro’s first hires, listed as the company’s director of technology and compliance officer. He also lived in the guest studio apartment on the farm property.
He died in the early hours of July 12 after being shot by Lane County Sheriff’s (LCSO) deputies when he engaged police with a firearm on the property.
His friend wasn’t a violent person, Isaacson said; he doesn’t know what happened.
”I had never seen him get in a physical fight his entire life,” Isaacson said, who left the farm about 8 p.m. that evening. ”I talked to him on the phone throughout the night and he was becoming increasingly more intoxicated – bouncing around between highs and lows.”
Loop tried to explain he was upset but Isaacson said he couldn’t understand what his friend was saying.
”He was going to go to the house and was going to sleep, and that was the last time I talked to him,” he said.
Around midnight on July 11, Lane County Sheriff’s Office LCSO investigated a call of shots fired at the One Gro farm on the 78600 block of Cedar Park Road in Cottage Grove, but were unable to find the suspect.
Around 1 a.m., LCSO Special Response Team searched the area. Deputies used a loudspeaker to call into the building on the property where they thought Loop was hiding, police said.
About 3:45 a.m., Loop exited the building and engaged deputies with a firearm.
Loop was shot twice by two deputies – once with a rubber bullet, once with live round, which pierced his heart, Isaacson said.
He was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center RiverBend in Springfield, but later died at the hospital.
No other injuries were reported.
”I don’t blame the police at all for what they did; they did what they had to do,” Isaacson said. ”We just do such a crappy job of dealing with people with mental illness in this country. Police were told that Loop was intoxicated and having some mental issues. It’s hard to understand – if you have teargas, and flash grenades and rubber bullets – why a live round is a course of action you need to take, but I wasn’t there so I don’t know.”
He said it’s also hard to know what happened because police weren’t wearing body cameras, and that the incident occurred on a portion of the property that doesn’t have a line of site with the farm’s security cameras.
”From the descriptions (of the incident), some of it is not matching up with evidence seen,” he said. ”We may never know what happened.”
The use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer in Lane County is investigated by the Lane County Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team.
The identity of the deputies involved have not been released, and as per Senate Bill 111, both deputies have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
LSCO Sergeant Carrie Carver said no additional information has been released as of press day, noting that an interagency team of detectives is continuing to investigate the incident.
Creswell is familiar with One Gro because in November 2017, Creswell voters rejected One Gro’s measure by 85 percent to allow marijuana sales and distribution in town.
While Creswell residents were very vocal during the election, Cedar Park Road residents in Cottage Grove also voiced their concerns about having the grow around their property since One Gro moved in, lamenting on safety concerns and the loss of tranquility of their neighborhood. They say that establishing such a large commercial pot grow in their residential area – a property that used to be a lavender farm – has completely overwhelmed their neighborhood.
Ron Saville is one of those neighbors. He has gone to Lane County Commissioners stating that ”One Gro created a cartel-like environment in the neighborhood,” and was concerned about the AR-15 assault rifles neighbors say have been used to patrol on the grow site.
A Chronicle letter to the editor published in October 2017 penned by Jerry Settelmeyer, Richard Sedlock and 16 other neighbors stated that neighbors were concerned by One Gro employees ”with guns strapped to their legs stalking neighbors,” and that they’ve had other ”highly troubling interactions” with the business.
”I’ve said should an altercation occur – and it did occur – I’ve got grandkids within a few hundred yards of the One Gro farm,” Saville said. ”I don’t know where the shots came from; if (Loop) came out from above the house, he was probably facing south and could have killed one of my grandkids. I’m very upset about this whole situation.”
Isaacson said that mental illness was a common thread in Loop’s life. He had personal demons, was depressed and used poor coping mechanisms.
”He would resort to alcohol and to being alone to cope, even though that was the worst recipe for them,” he said.
Isaacson said that Loop had a rough childhood, struggled with issues of inadequacy, and had a hard time as his three children got older and didn’t need him as much anymore.
He attended counseling, but Isaacson said Loop couldn’t afford to keep going.
Years ago, Loop lived with Isaacson in Chicago during a time when Loop was ”going down a bad path.” Loop had gotten sober, his disposition improved and moved back to Oregon a year later, Isaacson said.
Shortly thereafter, he started working for One Gro.
One Gro was looking for someone to camp on the site for two months while the farm was being built, and Loop was their guy. He was ”the person we’d call for anything when this whole thing got started,” he said.
Loop was also depressed over the death of his girlfriend in January, Heather Sanford, 28. Sanford was another One Gro employee, and died after being hit by a truck while walking on the Siuslaw River Bridge in Florence.
”It all spiraled from there,” Isaacson said. ”The drinking was heavier and he wanted to be by himself.”
As for what could’ve happened that night, Isaacson said there was some petty discrepancies between Loop and another employee that he was aware of, although he does not believe that those issues caused Loop to behave the way he did that night.
There will be a memorial service for Loop next month in Grants Pass.