Cockfighting remains a controversial activity around the world, and is illegal in many countries, such as the United States. This has led to a rise in illegal gambling, and a recent shootout at an illegal cockfighting event in Hawaii has resulted in two fatalities and three people sustaining non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Media outlets have reported on the incident, which occurred last Saturday outside of Honolulu, but details are still scarce. The difficulty in preventing these fights is that they can take place virtually anywhere and can be hard to trace, due to organized crime often being involved. However, the police have responded by vowing to begin a concerted effort to identify and shut down illegal cockfights.
Hawaiians have grown accustomed to these bloody battles, but the recent incident has been deemed the most severe shooting in the state’s history, prompting fear that more violence may ensue. To crack down on the fights, the police will likely resort to undercover tactics.
Witnesses to the fight are reluctant to provide details, due to the potential of retribution from the organizers, or potential criminal charges. According to a statement by Honolulu Police Department Lt. Deena Thoemmes to local media outlet KHON, the shootout appears to have started as an argument between participants and attendees, which then escalated into a gunfight.
The two fatalities were aged 34 and 59, and the three individuals who were wounded in the attack range from 38 to 57 years of age. It has been reported that hundreds of attendees and bettors are usually present at these fights, with thousands of dollars changing hands. It is believed that international drug traffickers and gangs are often behind the events.
The recent attack has prompted some concern that violence may be on the rise in Hawaii. According to the Associated Press, the number of registered firearms in the state has increased by 319% over the past two decades. Just a month ago, law enforcement officials raided an illegal cockfighting event in Kealakekua, which was attended by approximately 800 people. During the raid, officers seized guns, drugs, and other contraband.
The police are currently searching for a suspect in their mid-20s, and investigators are likely to call on individuals who were present at the event in an attempt to identify the shooter.