The Starke County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from the Indiana State, Knox, No. Judson police departments and the Indiana Conservation Officers arrested 76 people Saturday morning after officers raided an animal fighting contest in Knox, police say. Just before 11 a.m., police responded to an anonymous tip that 50 people were participating in an animal fighting contest in the North Judson area, at 100 W, south of State Road 8. A search warrant was issued and the site was raided.
When police arrived, multiple people fled on foot and abandoned fighting cock paraphernalia and several vehicles parked in the area.
Police apprehended over 70 suspects after running through muddy fields, ice-covered ditches and wooded areas. Officers found other suspects hiding in ditches and hollowed-out trees. One juvenile that was harbored by an adult was found without shoes. The juvenile was taken to Starke Memorial Hospital and treated for frostbite. Due to the large number of people arrested a bus had to be secured for transportation.
Police say they arrested a person who was described as a Hispanic male for organizing the event, and many others were arrested for promoting animal fighting and attending. Police observed dead birds in buckets, a cock fighting ring and obvious scoring boards of some type. It is a class A misdemeanor to attend an animal fighting contest and it is a Class D felony to promote the use of animals or attendance at an animal fighting contest.
145 fighting cocks were seized and transported to the Starke County Humane Society for euthanizing. Employees and volunteers of the Starke County Humane Society worked all night Saturday into the early morning hours Sunday completing their work. The birds had been transported to the Humane Society in crates tightly packed together and required two trips with a dump truck filled to the top due to the large quantity of birds involved.
Officers also obtained and served a search warrant seizing 13 firearms, 29 vehicles, drug paraphernalia, and cock fighting paraphernalia.
Those arrested traveled from various states including Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. Large numbers of people were seen Sunday morning crowding the Starke County Police Department lobby and were lined up outside the building apparently attempting to arrange for bonds for the offenders.
The incident is under investigation.