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Cockfighting melee leaves two dead, two jailed
Dispute over small wager triggers deadly fight
aguilera juan
Juan Aguilera

The violence of a cockfight spilled out of the ring Sunday when one man fatally shot another over a $10 discrepancy in a wager made between the two men.

 The shooter’s own life came to a brutal end minutes later when he was beaten to death by the victim’s brother and friend.The shooting victim was identified by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department as Miguel Romo Orosco, 20, of Turlock.

The deceased shooter has not yet been identified. He is believed to have been in his late 20s.


Two Turlock men – Rafael Orosco, the 24-year-old brother of Miguel Orosco, and Juan Aguilera, 32, have been charged with homicide in relation to the beating death, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.


The incident was set in motion late Saturday night when several dozen people converged at 6219 Washington Ave., in Livingston to watch an illegal cockfighting match. As the night wore on into Sunday morning a disagreement between two sides rose up over money staked on a fight. One side was saying the small wager had been $10 more than what the other side claimed, MacKenzie said.

 The argument took a deadly turn when the shooter pulled out a firearm and shot Miguel Orosco dead on the spot.

Rafael Orosco and Aguilera chased after the shooter and wrestled the gun away from him. During the fray Aguilera received a gunshot wound to his side and one other individual was grazed by a bullet, MacKenzie said. The unnamed individual was treated at Emanuel Medical Center and released, MacKenzie said.


With the gun out of the shooter’s hands Rafael Orosco and Aguilera took to beating him repeatedly, according to the sheriff’s department.


“There was a passerby that witnessed some of it, and tried to get them to stop,” Sheriff Mark Pazin said at a press conference. “And they were bent on getting their vengeance right away for the shooting of the brother.”


Calls had been pouring in to the emergency dispatchers since the sounds of gunfire and when deputies arrived around 1 a.m. they found Miguel Orosco dead of a gunshot wound and the unidentified man lying lifeless on the street.


Rafael Orosco was taken into custody and charged with homicide.


Aguilera was flown to a Modesto hospital for treatment of his wound. He will be booked into the Merced County Jail on a homicide charge upon his release.

 Sheriff’s detectives are still investigating the double fatality and are trying to determine if others were involved in the beating.

It’s unknown if the men knew each other prior to the incident and it is unknown if they brought roosters to fight or were there as spectators.


The agricultural crimes unit at the sheriff’s department is investigating the homeowner of the rural Livingston home to determine their involvement in the cockfighting match.


Investigators found 15 to 20 rooster carcasses as well as live roosters, which will be euthanized. Common practices in cockfighting operations are to breed the birds to be vicious and to drug them to increase their aggression. It’s also standard practice to fit their legs with knives or other sharp weaponry, according to the Humane Society.

 In California, cockfighting is punished as a misdemeanor for the first offense and as a felony for subsequent violations.“The two deaths in Merced County are only the most recent in a series of killings that have happened at cockfights in California in recent years,” said Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist for the Humane Society. “It is time to make cockfighting a felony on the first offense so we can deter cockfighters from staging these events. The only way to stop cockfighting, and the carnage that goes hand-in-hand with it, is to provide penalties that are greater than the potential gambling winnings. Strong penalties have proven to be an effective deterrent for cockfighting in other states.”To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.