Deputies from California’s Fresno County Sheriff’s Office have arrested four teenagers in connection with the violent killing of 920 chickens at a Foster Farms facility near Caruthers, Califronia. Arrested were Gabriel Quintero, 18, Riverdale, two juvenile males, ages 15 and 17, from Caruthers, and a third juvenile male, 17, from Lemoore. The names of the three underage suspects were not released.
Foster Farms commends officers, public
Foster Farms, which assisted with the investigation, in a statement commended law enforcement officers and the public for their swift action leading to the arrests, and reiterated that animal cruelty like that is completely unacceptable.
“As an American Humane Association-certified chicken producer, Foster Farms has a zero tolerance policy for animal cruelty. Our chicken ranches adhere to humane standards 24/7, 365 days a year and it is the express policy of Foster Farms to treat its birds humanely and with compassion. Any intentional act to the contrary is absolutely unacceptable,” said Ira Brill, director of communications for Foster Farms. "Foster Farms actively worked with law enforcement to facilitate the arrest of the individuals charged with this unconscionable act of animal cruelty."
Suspects taken into custody without incident
On the morning of September 20, patrol deputies responded to the Foster Farms facility in Caruthers after workers discovered the dead chickens. It was determined the suspects pulled back a portion of a wall and entered one of the chicken sheds. Once inside, the suspects used a golf club and another similar type of instrument to kill the birds.
Foster Farms officials reported 920 birds were killed with an estimated value of around $5,000. Foster Farms also offered a reward in the case.
Information regarding the investigation was put out to local media on September 30. The coverage generated several calls to the sheriff’s office, Ag Task Force, and CrimeStoppers.
The coverage also caused some animal rights groups to also offer rewards, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
One tip in particular, identified the suspects as three male juveniles who lived at a residence located in the 3500 block of West Elkhorn Ave. Detectives also learned the information regarding the incident and possible suspects had been spread via social media.
Deputies and Ag Task Force detectives responded to the Elkhorn address, where they contacted two juveniles. Evidence linking the juveniles to the crime was discovered at the home, and both were taken into custody without incident.
While there, detectives also developed information on two other possible suspects, one of which had been identified in the original tip. They located the third juvenile, who was also taken into custody without incident. Detectives then tracked Quintero to an apartment in Fresno, where he was taken into custody.
Further evidence tying the suspects to the crime was discovered after returning to the scene.
Quintero was transported to the Fresno County Jail where he was booked on charges of burglary and felony cruelty to animals. The three juveniles were all transported to the Fresno Juvenile Justice Center where they were also booked on charges of burglary and felony cruelty to animals.