OAKHURST (AP) — A Central California property owner was shot and killed when he confronted three men who were illegally growing marijuana on his rural land, police said Tuesday.

Timothy Fadgen, 47, was killed during the confrontation Monday night and died at the scene, Madera County Sheriff’s Lt. Zack Zamudio said.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]Fadgen confronted the men about the illegal grow on the edge of his property, and a fight ensued, Zamudio said, adding Fadgen was aware the marijuana was being illegally grown on his property. Madera County is about 20 miles north of Fresno.

Investigators were at the scene Tuesday, but Zamudio said they do not yet know how many pot plants were growing on the land.

Also Tuesday, police continued to search for the men witnesses say fled in an older-model blue or green minivan with tinted windows. Descriptions of the suspects were not available.

The killing comes as tensions are rising in rural California communities where new marijuana growers are clashing with longtime residents who complain that pot attracts crime to their neighborhoods.

State authorities will begin issuing licenses next year to legally grow and sell marijuana for recreational use. More growers are expected to set up shop throughout California as pot sales continue to boom.

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