Suspects in the deadly shootout between motorcycle gangs that killed nine and injured 18 Sunday at a Twin Peaks restaurant came from all over the state including North Texas, jail records show.
The 170 people arrested, whose bails were set at $1 million each, came from cities including Fort Worth, Hurst, Grapevine, Mansfield, Lewisville, Joshua, Krum and Grand Prairie.
All are accused of engaging in organized criminal activity and some will eventually be charged with capital murder, said Waco police spokesman Sgt. Patrick Swanton.
Those shot were from the Bandidos and the Cossacks motorcycle gangs, according to arrest warrant affidavits.
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McLennan County Justice of the Peace W.H. Peterson defended the high bail for so many people, noting that the violence erupted in a shopping area busy with a Sunday lunchtime crowd.
“We have nine people dead because these people wanted to come down and what? Drink? Party?” Peterson said. “I thought it was appropriate.”
Peterson also conducted inquests on the nine dead bikers but declined to identify them because their families had not all been notified. All nine were from Texas, he said.
Police acknowledged firing on armed bikers. But it was unclear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many had been shot by officers.
‘Came here to kill people’
The bloodbath would not have occurred if the local Twin Peaks franchise owners had listened to law enforcement, Swanton said.
Police had been monitoring the biker parties at the restaurant for the last two months and were convinced violence would eventually break out, he said.
“This criminal element came here to kill people,” Swanton said. “They didn’t come here to drink beer and eat barbecue.
“If police are asking for assistance and you don’t listen, bad things can happen.”
A spokeswoman for the Twin Peaks franchise holder, who was not identified, emailed a statement late Friday:
“It is important to clarify that, to the best of our knowledge, law enforcement officials did not ask either the Waco restaurant operator (with whom they spoke several times) or the Twin Peaks franchisor to cancel the patio reservation that was made on Sunday. Based on the information to date, we also believe that the violence began outside in the area of the parking lot, and not inside our restaurant or on our patio, as has been widely reported.”
The statement said the franchise holder was working with “a third-party video surveillance vendor to provide restaurant video footage in a format requested by law enforcement.”
The Twin Peaks corporation has withdrawn the franchise agreement from the Waco restaurant, spokesman Rick Van Warner said Monday.
“Unfortunately the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants,” Warner said in a statement. “We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are immediately revoking their franchise agreement.”
Authorities had made their presence known when the motorcycle gangs gathered at the restaurant — 18 Waco police and four Texas Department of Public Safety officers were on hand.
When the shooting started, Swanton said, police responded in 30 to 45 seconds, and then motorcycle gang members started firing on the officers.
Some of the victims had “gunshot wounds, stab wounds and blunt-force injuries,” Swanton said.
Still guarding perimeter Monday
Waco police spent Monday processing the crime scene, which included about 100 motorcycles and 75 cars, many with bullet holes. Some were towed away late Monday.
Swanton said some motorcycle gang members tried to drive up to the shopping center about two hours after Sunday’s shooting. On Monday, he said, SWAT teams and law enforcement were still guarding the perimeter of the Central Texas Marketplace shopping center, but there were no reports of motorcycle gangs arriving.
“I will tell you that we have had threats against law enforcement officers throughout the night from various biker groups. We are very aware that some of them have come into our city and we have a contingency plan to deal with those individuals if they try to cause trouble here,” Swanton said Monday.
Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Monday afternoon saying, “Texas will not stand for the type of lawlessness we witnessed in Waco yesterday. My office, along with law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels, is committed to providing any and all resources needed to support the Waco Police Department and the local community.”
Pools of blood
The violence erupted shortly after noon in the restaurant at the busy shopping center along Interstate 35 where members of at least five rival gangs had gathered for a meeting, Swanton said.
Preliminary findings indicate a dispute broke out in a bathroom, escalated to include knives and firearms, and eventually spilled into the restaurant parking lot.
The interior of the restaurant was littered with bullet casings, knives, a club and pools of blood, Swanton said. Some 150 to 200 bikers were inside during the shootout.
All of the dead were found outside the restaurant, he said.
Parts of downtown Waco were locked down, and officials stopped and questioned motorcycle riders. FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were assisting local and state authorities.
Swanton said the Waco Convention Center was used to hold the suspects temporarily as police rushed to secure many parts of the city amid reports of rival bikers going elsewhere to continue the fight. Those at the convention center were later taken to jail.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara, whose office is involved in the investigation, confirmed that all nine who were killed were members of the Bandidos or Cossacks gangs.
Fort Worth rivalry
In Fort Worth, biker gang rivalry was apparently behind a December shooting that left one man dead and two others injured.
Witnesses told police that members of the Winos Crew and Ghost Riders were hanging out inside the Gators Jam Inn at 2813 Race St. on Dec. 12 when approximately 10 Bandidos burst in and began fighting and shooting at the bar’s occupants.
Geoff Brady, a member of the Ghost Riders, was shot in the head.
Three Bandidos were later arrested on murder warrants and remain free on bond. Their cases have not yet gone before a grand jury, court records show.
In a 2014 gang threat assessment, the Texas Department of Public Safety classified the Bandidos as a “Tier 2” threat, the second highest. Other groups in that tier included the Bloods, Crips and Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
The Bandidos, formed in the 1960s, are involved in trafficking cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Texas assessment doesn’t mention the Cossacks.
There’s at least one documented instance of violence between the two groups. In November 2013, a 46-year-old from Abilene who police say was the leader of a West Texas Bandidos chapter was charged in the stabbings of two members of the Cossacks club.
Star-Telegram reporters Deanna Boyd and Domingo Ramirez contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698