4 Mobsters Break Into MMA Fighter's House. They Regret It.

The news: New Mexico lightweight mixed martial arts fighter Joseph Torrez is 1-5 in his professional record, but he's 4-0 in his own home.

Early on New Year's Day, four alleged gang members broke into his mobile home, armed with a shank, and intending to harm or kill him. Minutes later, one was dead, one was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and two had fled in terror.

According to The Las Cruces Sun-News, 25-year-old Sal Garces was found stabbed and beaten near a residence in the 600 block of King James Avenue in Doña Ana. He perished at the scene. Another assailant, 20-year-old Nathan Avalos, was in an El Paso hospital with "severe" injuries to his face. Garces' 19-year-old brother Raymond and 22-year-old Leonard Castillo had fled the scene but were in police custody.

Raymond Garces said that the group had gone to Torrez's home at two a.m. on New Year's Day to settle a dispute. Torrez, home with his son, fiance, and her friends, brought his financée's sister into her home before the attack after she had been "jumped." After, Calvillo made threatening phone calls to the house, saying:

"I'm big Eastside ... I'll kill you and your family ... I will go to your house."

One man entered with the shank. Another grabbed a knife. But apparently, even four-on-one odds weren't enough to take on Torrez.

Now he's preparing his legal defense. According to attorney C.J. McElhinney, in a post on the Support Joe Torrez Facebook group, which has nearly 15,000 likes as of early Tuesday afternoon:

"I want to assure everyone that I am working to ensure Joe's legal interests and to prepare his defense. Unfortunately, I think we are at the beginning of a very long fight. Please know that I have advised Joe to make no statements of any kind until this situation is resolved. He is reading all of your posts and truly appreciates your support."


According to Deputy District Attorney Jacinto Palomino, a prosecutor visited the scene on Jan. 1 and the authorities are being "thorough" in their investigation of the case. No charges have been filed against Torrez, but he has advised his client to stop cooperating with the police.

New Mexico law allows a person to defend themselves without a duty to retreat. But it also requires that person to use "no more force than is reasonably necessary to avoid the threatened harm."

Meanwhile, Calvillo has been charged with aggravated battery, two counts of conspiracy, and criminal damage to property and his probation has been revoked. Raymond Garces is being charged with two counts of conspiracy and criminal damage to property. Avalos will face charges when he is released from the hospital.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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