MADERA COUNTY – During a news conference Monday, Apr. 22, Sheriff John Anderson announced a disturbing local trend among teenagers and young adults who continue to organize huge underground parties that are turning deadly.
In the past two months, two young men have died while attending “Fusion Parties,” a title coined by teenagers for underground parties, organized through social media and text messaging, for underage kids to consume alcohol and narcotics.The victim in the most recent shooting has been identified as 18-year-old Drakkar Lewis of Fairmead. He is the same young man who hosted the previous “Fusion Party” at a home in Fairmead where a 19-year-old Madera man was gunned down.
The night of Mar. 30, Eleazar Iruegas, 19, was killed and another young man was critically wounded, when shots were fired at a Fusion Party. A third young man was also struck by gunfire, but was not critically injured.
On Apr. 5, two Chowchilla men, Antonio Michael Ybarra, 23, and Jose Pulido-Perez, 20, were arrested, and both are facing murder charges for that Mar. 30 shooting.
So far the homicides have occurred in the unincorporated areas of Madera County. Both killings were carried out during “Fusion Parties,” large gatherings consisting of at least 100 girls and boys between the ages of 16 and 22, where alcohol and drugs were being consumed by revelers.
On both occasions, following hours of drinking and drug abuse, deadly violence broke out.
This latest “Fusion Party” was held near Avenue 18 ½ and Road 21, located just west of the Pilot Truck Stop.
No suspects have been identified in this past shooting.
Sheriff Anderson says the growing number of shooting incidents at fusion parties –14 in the unincorporated area of Madera County alone since January 2013 – have been happening throughout the county, including at least two more shootings in the city of Madera that are believed to be related to Fusion Parties.
From what detectives have been able to learn so far, organizers of these parties are able to spread the word through social media and text messaging. In some cases a flyer is generated announcing a party, but with no address, only a phone number to call.
The rule, as understood by the Sheriff’s Office, is that kids must either call or text that number to find out the location of the party.
While some of the attendees at these parties do have juvenile records, many of these kids have no ties to criminal activity, but they all have one thing in common – they like to party, especially when alcohol and drugs are involved.
“These are children,” says Sheriff Anderson, “some as young as 16 years of age and even younger. Anyone of them could have also been shot. As it is, two other young men were struck by gunfire when Eleazar Iruegas was shot and killed last month in Fairmead.”
The Sheriff’s Office encourages parents to consider that every time one of your kids responds to or accepts a text party invite, they are literarily putting themselves in harm’s way.
They are asking these questions – “Parents, do you know where your kids are? Do you know who’s hosting an event your kids are planning to attend? Do you know where the event is taking place? Do you worry about your minor children being out at all hours of the night drinking alcohol and taking drugs?”