Police Crackdown Coming to Hawaii Following Shootout at Illegal Cockfight

Cockfighting receives mixed attention across the globe, although it’s banned in many countries, including the US. That makes it a great target for illegal gambling, but a shootout at an illegal cockfight in Hawaii that left two people dead is attracting unwanted attention.

Two roosters square off in a cockfight
Two roosters square off in a cockfight. A recent illegal fight in Hawaii left two dead and will lead to a police crackdown. (Image: Canva)

Local media outlets reported on the incident, which occurred this past Saturday just outside of Honolulu. Details are still sketchy, but a man and a woman lost their lives during the melee, while three others received non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Preventing the fights is difficult – they can be held almost anywhere and are hard to track. Because, like most illegal gambling, the fights have organized crime behind them, most people don’t want to speak up. However, this case has the police ready to take action.

The Hunt Begins

Police in Hawaii vow to begin concerted effort to identify and shut down illegal cockfights, which have strong roots in the culture. Some locals grew up around the bloody battles as part of their everyday lives and still don’t see them as an issue.

That changed with the firefight that occurred this past weekend. It has been dubbed the worst shooting in the state’s history and some fear that it could suggest that more violence is on its way.

How the police plan on cracking down isn’t clear. However, it will likely include a lot of undercover work.

The shootout was apparently the result of a fight between participants and attendees, but witnesses aren’t exactly forthright with the details. They’re afraid of being charged for their roles or, worse, retaliation from the organizers.

In a conversation with local media outlet KHON, Honolulu Police Department Lt. Deena Thoemmes explained the working theory behind the attack. She said that a group of men got into an argument that turned into a firefight.

The victims were allegedly not part of the fight and were caught in the crossfire. None of the victims was named, although the two casualties were 34 and 59 years old. The three wounded range from 38 to 57 and are recovering from the attack.

The fights regularly attract hundreds of attendees and bettors, with over $100,000 routinely changing hands. Those behind it are often international drug traffickers and gangs who would have no trouble silencing someone for the price of a bullet. Because most of the attendees are locals, everyone knows who’s who.

Violence on the Rise

Widespread violence is uncommon in Hawaii’s idyllic islands. The biggest case in recent history involved the murder of seven people at a Xerox office in 1997. In 2011, a shootout on a highway resulted in one death and two injuries.

The idea that armed violence might be on the rise in Hawaii has merit. The Associated Press, citing Hawaii’s attorney general’s office, said that the number of registered firearms in the state is increasing. Over the past two decades, it has jumped 319%, and that doesn’t include all of the unregistered weapons that blanket Hawaii.

A month ago, law enforcement officials raided a cockfight in Kealakekua, according to Hawaii News Now. There were allegedly around 800 people in attendance, which emphasizes the popularity of the events. During the raid, the police seized pistols and rifles, as well as illegal drugs.

The new cockfighting attack will likely have investigators calling on some of those individuals to help identify one of the shooters. The only lead they have is that he’s local and in his mid-20’s. Someone will undoubtedly know who he is – if they’re willing to talk.

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