There was a crowd of 50 in all, including a pregnant woman and two teenagers, jammed into the tiny basement of an Englewood home allegedly cheering on the two pit bulls ripping each other apart in a makeshift ring, authorities said.
The stink of animal and a backed-up sewage drain didn't stop the alleged Saturday night show, didn't dampen the enthusiasm until deputies with the Cook County sheriff's office and Chicago Police descended on the residence in the 500 block of West 66th Street, they said. With that, organizers cut the lights in the room, leaving Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, his deputies and police navigating the room with flashlights for a time, illuminating a pen where one dog lay dying and the other was still barking, ready to fight, the swarm of people -- some lying on the floor, others standing by as if nothing was wrong -- and several guns lying around the room, officials said.
Before it was over, three alleged ringleaders were arrested, the rest issued misdemeanor tickets for attending the event, and Dart was counting the bust, one of several dozen since he took office in 2006, as the first of its kind for his deputies: breaking up a fight in progress.
"We were very surprised to walk in to that, in process of it going on, that's somewhat unusual," said Dart, adding that the fight had probably been going on about 15 minutes before it was stopped. "The whole thing was unsettling, there were little kids, a pregnant woman, guns all over the place," he said.
Dart says his officers videotaped gruesome footage of the scene, including a shot of officers having to pull one animal off the second, which was cowering and so weak it couldn't walk. A tackle box near the scene contained syringes and IVs, along with amphetamines and steroids as well as a staple gun that authorities say would be used to close the animal's wounds.
While police said they discovered a loud and chaotic scene in the basement of the house on 66th Street, neighbors said Sunday that they didn't hear or see anything, nor did they know the suspects, whose mugshots were flashed on the evening news.
Donaver Jones, 38, of Riverdale, was among three men charged with felony dog fighting. Jones, whose mother reportedly lives in the building where the fight took place, allegedly admitted he organized Saturday night's fight and owned the more aggressive dog.
Attempts to reach residents at the two-story brick home were unsuccessful.
As he was being arrested, Jones talked openly with law enforcement officers about his arrest two years ago in Downstate Livingston County, where authorities interrupted a large-scale dog-fighting operation, Dart said.
Melvin Trent, 37, and Timothy Norris, 35, both of Joliet, also were arrested on felony dog-fighting charges and allegedly admitted owning the severely injured dog.
Both animals were reportedly euthanized.