On Monday, gunmen opened fire on an alleged cockfighting pit in the Mexican state of Michoacan, killing 20 people and leaving several others wounded in one of the most horrific massacres the country has seen in recent years.
Michoacan officials said the shooting happened Sunday during a “clandestine palenque,” or cockfight, in the town of Las Tinajas. Details on the massacre are still emerging and the area has previously seen violence driven by drug cartels. The country’s president has also stated that the shooting was gang-related.
“It was a massacre of one group against another,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said during a press conference on Monday.
Five people, four men, and women were left injured during the shooting and one victim died on the way to the hospital, according to a statement issued on Monday by the Michoacan attorney general. Investigators found more than 100 7.62 caliber shell casings at the crime scene, which were collected at different points in the building and 15 vehicles were seized by authorities.
On Sunday, the Attorney general’s Office said that the shooting occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time. Personnel from the Crime Scene and Expert Services Unit were dispatched to the scene where they found 19 bodies including sixteen men and three women.
Multiple men armed with assault rifles forced themselves into the building where they opened fire on what is believed to be a rival gang, reports La Voz de Michoacán. They also described the chaos that accompanied the shooting, with reports that stated that bystanders attempted to hide following the shooting, and an armed group that may have been the same one behind the attack, took by force a passenger bus and cargo truck that were used to block a road for over an hour.
The National Guard and The Secretary of National Defense have since secured the area and are looking for the perpetrators, La Prensa reported.