MMA fighter Joseph Torrez, 27, was ushering in the New Year with his fiancee and their son just outside of Las Cruces, NM when he found himself in a deadly situation. His family was attacked by four gang members at his mobile home because of an ongoing feud with an “Eastside” gang. The trained MMA fighter did the only thing he knew to do, defend his family.
One of the gang members, 22-year old Leonard Cavillo, called ahead to announce that they were coming. The Las Cruces Sun-Times reported that Cavillo called Joseph Torrez and said, “I’m big Eastside… I’ll kill you and your family… I will go to your house.”
Not long after the life threatening phone call, Cavillo showed up to the mobile home with Nathan Avalos, 20, Sal Garces, 25, and his brother Raymond Garces, 19. Joseph Torrez’ fiancee’s sister had arrived shortly before the gang members, reportedly having been jumped by some other “Eastside” gang members. Neighbors in the mobile home park told police that they heard loud noises and shouting as the gang made their way towards the house.
In all the commotion, it was hard to tell who was armed with what weapons. Witnesses claim that at least one of the gang members was wielding a shank and that another picked up a knife once inside the mobile home. That’s when the MMA training of Joseph Torrez came in handy. As the gang members jumped in to attack him, he defended himself and his family.
The brutal, bloody battle ended with the eldest gang member, Sal Garces, dead from stab wounds and a severe beating. He was pronounced dead on arrival. Nathan Avalos was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for severe “facial” injuries. The other two gang members ran away, but were eventually apprehended by police. All three surviving attackers have previous records and face serious charges.
Police say Joseph Torrez, who suffered some minor injuries, may face charges as well for the death of Sal Garces. The MMA fighter’s attorney, C.J. McElhinney, claims the incident is clearly a case of self defense.
“He was fighting for his life.”
Fortunately, his fiancee and son were kept safe during the fight.