Illegal chicken fighting a growing problem since 1970s, former HPD deputy chief says

HPD is asking for the public's help to track down the suspect involved in this weekend's shooting at a Maili chicken fight that left two people dead.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 10:21 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 18, 2023 at 12:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Department is asking for the public’s help to track down the suspect involved in this weekend’s shooting at a Maili “chicken fight” that left two people dead.

Meanwhile, a former deputy HPD chief says illegal chicken fighting is something that’s been an issue since he first joined HPD in the 1970s, but it has changed over the years and has become a breeding ground for criminal activity.

“It was a lot less sophisticated. The participants were a lot more respectful of the community and law enforcement,” said Former HPD Deputy Police Chief John McCarthy.

He told HNN he recalls when he was an officer in his 20s and went to his first chicken fight bust.

“It’s not something you forget,” said McCarthy. “It was like a movie scene almost because everybody is out there making noise. They’re betting, they’re cheering on their favorite chicken.”

McCarthy worked his way up to HPD leadership before retiring in 2021. He says since his early days on the force, chicken fights have evolved.

“When I first got in, we’d have undercover officers get into the games. They would watch. Gather evidence through their observations and that sort of them,” he said.

“Compared to now where it’s probably harder to get into a gambler game than an R rating movie. They are checking IDs and making sure the references are good so they are really screening for law enforcement.”

The location of this weekend’s chicken fight that ended in a deadly shooting was down a dirt road, out of sight from patrolling officers.

McCarthy says without seeing it, officers wouldn’t have probable cause to search the property without a warrant.

The area’s state representative says he believes criminals are taking advantage of HPD’s staffing shortage.

“Criminals are taking advantage of the lack of enforcement because they know we don’t have the officers to respond to these types of situations,” said state Rep. Darius Kila.

The suspect is said to be a man in his 20s. Anyone with information on this weekend’s shooting can contact Honolulu CrimeStoppers anonymously.