SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) – Wetsuit-clad surfers strolled around Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz enjoying warm November weather and saying hello to friends. For locals who live in the tight-knit neighborhood with world-class waves, it’s hard to not run into someone you know.
But a small bouquet of flowers left outside of one oceanfront house was a reminder that not all was perfect in Pleasure Point’s paradise. A shocking kidnapping unfolded inside the home nearly two months ago. And surfers were still asking each other over the weekend: What really happened to Tushar Atre? Hasn’t anyone been arrested yet? What about the surveillance video, someone must know who they are?
No arrests have yet been made in connection to the kidnapping-turned-homicide, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ashley Keene told KRON4, and she declined to say if any “persons of interest” have been identified.
The Sheriff’s Office released surveillance video showing three people — one carrying a duffel bag and another carrying a rifle — walking on East Cliff Drive toward Atre’s home before he was kidnapped and shot to death.
The wealthy tech executive and CEO of AtreNet was slain on Oct. 1, 2019. Investigators said the three assailants entered the house that night, forced Atre into a white BMW, and drove him to a second property he owned in the Santa Cruz mountains. He was found dead soon after inside the BMW parked on Soquel San Jose Road.
“We have received some calls from the public since putting that video out. Right now our investigators are screening and vetting that information. We are still encouraging the public to look at that video,” Keene said.
The motive was described as a robbery. Keene declined to release what was stolen.
Atre’s friends said he owned a cannabis business, and they are convinced the kidnapping-robbery was connected to cannabis.
A paddleout to celebrate Atre’s life was organized near Capitola. As time continues to pass with no arrests, a reward raised by friends and family for information to help investigators has increased to $150,000..
“We are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspects seen in the video. The reward offered by private community members will last until December 30, 2019,” Sheriff’s Office wrote
Keene said the deadline was added for a sense of urgency. “This was a horrific murder. We want to find these suspects as soon as possible,” she said.
Atre, 50, had been a Pleasure Point resident for years. His last Instagram post showed a baby sea lion pup, who he named “Sam,” sunbathing on the deck of his multi-million-dollar mansion. In his last tweet, Atre wrote, “Get up. Surf. Make deals. Repeat.”
There have been conflicting news reports on who was with Atre at the house the moment kidnappers broke in. Keene confirmed to KRON4, “At least one person was inside the home when he was taken and it was not the girlfriend.”
According to social media, Atre’s girlfriend appears to be Rachael Edith Emerlye, an East Coast cannabis company owner.
AtreNet.com posted a message on its website addressing its CEO’s death: “We are saddened and shocked by the untimely passing of our friend, founder, and CEO, Tushar Atre. Tushar was clever, creative, and hardworking in every area of his life, both professionally and personally. He was an avid surfer, mountain biker, guitarist, and craftsman. Tushar appreciated art and expression, supporting local artists and integrating their work into his style. He loved his family and friends, and found joy and passion in every facet of life.”
“Most importantly, Tushar pushed others to think and act differently – to do better, and to always strive for more. Tushar founded AtreNet in 1996 with a single client, Mercury Interactive. Over 23 years, he guided the company to become the premiere web services agency for B2B technology companies. He will be missed, and we extend our deepest condolences to his friends, family, and loved ones,” AtreNet.com wrote.
Anyone with information on the identities of people seen in the surveillance video is asked to call Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ainsworth at 831-454-7635.