Topless Car Wash Raises Cash For Deputies Shot In Rastafarian Pot Farm Gun Fight

In a weird news story that’s getting weirder by the day, a strip club in Yuba County held a topless car wash to raise funds for deputies injured in a shoot-out on a Rastafarian pot farm.

The Los Angeles Times reports City Limits Showgirls in Marysville hosted the event on Saturday to assist Yuba County Deputies Andrew Everhart and Phillip Bronson, who got shot in the gun battle last month.

The topless car wash was held in a tent so people easily shocked or unwilling to pay wouldn’t accidentally catch a glimpse. It seems a lot of folks were happy to show support for the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department. On Sunday, the City Limits Showgirls’ Facebook page thanked all those who turned out and said they raised over two thousand dollars.

“First and foremost, all of us here at City Limits Showgirls would like to thank everyone who came out for our topless car wash,” they announced. “We consider it to be a huge success and we are so proud to see the support and generosity of our community as well as the support we saw from surrounding communities. Because of you, we were able to raise $2560 for the injured deputies.”

“We are giving back to the community that we’re a part of,” an unnamed dancer told KCRA 3 when asked about the topless car wash. She then smiled coyly and added, “The more you tip, the better show you’ll get.” The Yuba County Sheriff’s Dept. didn’t officially endorse the event, of course. But they assured KCRA that because it was held under a tent on their property, it was perfectly legal.

But while showing support for the topless car wash would be a public relations nightmare, the strip club’s Operations Manager Hal Meyer says they didn’t endorse it but they didn’t condemn it either. Some even planned on “bringing their own vehicles through,” according to Meyer.

Talina Kirker, another one of the dancers, told KCRA 3 she’d never washed a car before, but she volunteered because the Yuba County Sheriff Dept. keeps them safe when problems arise at the club. “Throughout my eight years being here, they’ve always been here to help,” she said.

Here’s the video with KCRA 3‘s report on the topless car wash fundraiser.

The Yuba County sheriff’s deputies — for whom the topless carwash was later held — put themselves in harm’s way on August 1. KCRA 3 reports a fight had broken out on the property of a remote Rastafarian church and marijuana farm northeast of Yuba City. The head of the church, Heidi Lepp, called 911 because a man was attacking a church member and damaging some of their growing operation’s marijuana plants.

“I got on the phone with 911 and I told the lady, ‘There is a man up on the farm, with the church with a gun, and he’s ripping plants out and is acting irritable and clearly was very disturbed,'” she told reporters.

When the sheriff’s deputies arrived, the suspect ran off and hid in a trailer located on the property. The owner, of course, gave them the go-ahead to check things out and a gunfight ensued. The suspect was killed and a helicopter arrived to transport the two injured deputies to a nearby hospital for treatment.

In her interview with KCRA 3, Heidi Grossman-Lepp explained her establishment is part of the Sugarleaf Rastafarian Church, and that in the Rastafarian religion, marijuana is sacred. “Wherever we walk, wherever we are, just like Jesus Christ, it’s a flesh and blood living church,” Lepp said. “We do have structures where we do go worship, we use cannabis as our sacrament.”

Photo of Rastafarian church and pot farm owners Heidi and Charles Lepp.

The Lepps are both white, but the BBC reports the Rastafarian religion started with black people in Jamaica in the 1930s. The Rastafari movement was based on a prophecy made by the black leader, Marcus Garvey that says, “Look to Africa where a black king shall be crowned, he shall be your Redeemer.” Although Garvey did not himself practice the religion, his black nationalist movement inspired it.

Heidi Lepp’s lawyer later told the Sacramento Bee the suspect was what grow operations call a “trimmigrant,” seasonal migrant workers who help during the marijuana harvest season for room, board, and a small stipend. CBS News added the man had been identified as 33-year-old Mark Anthony Sanchez from Gilroy, Calif.

Mug shot of Mark Sanchez, the suspect in the Rastafarian church shooting in Yuba County.

Sanchez turned out to be a convicted felon with two active arrest warrants, one for disturbing the peace and one for armed robbery. He’d also done time for violent crimes including carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon.

Here’s the video from KCRA 3’s interview with Rastafarian church founders Heidi and Charles Lepp.

[Featured Image by Andrey Arkusha/Shutterstock]