Fatal Hawaii Shooting Reveals Risks Of Popular Cockfights

Hawaii police have pledged to increase their enforcement of illegal gambling after one of the most severe shootings in the state’s history brought attention to the dangers associated with cockfighting. 

Cockfighting is a popular activity in Hawaii, despite it being illegal.

A man and a female stood killed in the early morning shootings that occurred Saturday, more than 30 miles from downtown Honolulu.

Three others also sustained gunshot injuries. As of Tuesday, the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office held not removed the names of those who died — they had both been taken to hospital in private cars — and the police had made no arrests yet but were still searching for two suspects.

The authorities say that it is challenging to investigate cockfights because they are organized on private properties and are illegal. They even have a significant amount of money bet and can often be linked to organized crime. Clandestine fights are held all over Hawaii. They usually occur on large properties hidden by brush or only accessible by dirt roads. This is the case in Waianae, where this weekend’s shooting occurred.

In a press release, Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan stated that neighbours are reluctant to intervene for fear of retaliation.


The practice of fighting roosters with blades attached to their legs has been illegal in Hawaii since 1884. However, it is still a familiar presence on the islands. Many cockfighting enthusiasts claim that the bloodsport is a part of Hawaii’s culture. This is especially true among the large Filipino population, often credited for bringing this blood sport from the Philippines, where Spanish colonists first introduced it.

“People who are attending are local and locally based. They have been doing this for generations,” said Gary Yabuta. He is now the executive director of Hawaii’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Chicken fighters have a saying: “It’s my blood.”

Some people say that cultural arguments should not excuse weekend fights.

People say, “I grew it up with. It’s cultural. Papa had chickens…we went to chicken fighting, that’s what we did for money'”, said Patty Kahanamoku Teruya. She is the chairperson of the neighbourhood board where the shooting occurred. It’s not cultural. It’s illegal. Period.”

Yabuta, whose program helps local and federal police collaborate in the battle against illegal drugs, is concerned with cockfighting because it’s tied to organized crime and drug trafficking. He says that hundreds of people often bet more than $100,000 on the fights.

He said law enforcement could not control it because “it is something so big and so popular” in Hawaii.

Wayne Pacelle stands as the president of Animal Wellness Action. He said that cockfighting has a worldwide appeal and extends beyond Hawaii.

The Romans founded it, and then the Greeks 3,000 years before. “Colonialism spread it all over the globe,” he said.

Sonny Ganaden, the state representative, stated that the sport flourished after arriving in Hawaii. It has spread to urban areas of the islands, such as Kalihi, where fighting birds are raised.

He said that crowing roosters were “part of Kalihi’s sights and sounds,” the neighbourhood where many Filipinos and Pacific Islanders live.

Cockfighting is illegal in all fifty states. However, it wasn’t unlawful in U.S. Territories until 2019, after a law was signed by former President Donald Trump that banned all animal fighting. He said, “Kids would grab a piece of chicken and make them fight.”

In lawsuits against the ban, the argument that cockfighting was a cultural tradition has been used with limited success. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge brought by individuals or organizations who argued that Congress had exceeded its authority in applying the Puerto Rico ban.

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Hawaii residents are concerned that gun violence will increase in a state which had previously largely avoided the violence associated with cockfighting.

Saturday’s shooting is among the worst since 1997, when seven workers at a Xerox Corp. facility were killed by gunfire. In 2006, a man shot and killed a taxi driver and a couple taking pictures at a scenic lookout near Honolulu. Two years later, a woman was killed, and two others were injured during a highway shooting spree.

Chris Marvin, Hawaii resident and Everytown for Gun Safety member says that these shootings will continue to increase as guns proliferate in the islands.

Hawaii’s attorney general’s data shows that the number of firearms in Hawaii registered each year has risen 319% between 2000 and 2021.

Marvin stated, “We will start to copy the trends we’ve seen on the mainland.” In the rest of the nation, there is more than one mass shooting daily. “We don’t hear of all of them.”

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