Texas

Two dead bikers have Tarrant County ties

Two of the nine bikers killed in the gunbattle at the Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday had ties to Tarrant County, authorities said Tuesday.

The names of the nine were released, along with preliminary reports on the autopsies performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

All were fatally shot, some in the head, others in the neck or torso.

The two from Tarrant County are Matthew Mark Smith, 27, who had lived in Keller and North Richland Hills and Wayne Lee Campbell, 43, of Rowlett who had lived in Fort Worth and Arlington.

Waco police also updated their description of how the deadly shootout started. The first sign of trouble was when an uninvited biker gang showed up in the restaurant parking lot. The patio area of the restaurant had been reserved for a meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, Region 1, which included several motorcycle gangs.

“I have no idea why [the uninvited gang] wanted to show up and cause trouble,” said Sgt. Patrick Swanton, a Waco police spokesman.

An argument started, possibly about a parking space, and maybe involving someone’s foot getting run over.

After the parking lot argument, the dispute escalated inside the restaurant and eventually shots were fired, Swanton said. When the shooting stopped, nine bikers were dead, 18 were injured, and 170 were in custody, Swanton said.

Initial reports Monday had said the fight began in a restaurant restroom.

Waco police have declined to name the gangs involved, but an arrest warrant affidavit says the fight was between the Bandidos and the Cossacks.

Eleven of the 18 injured have been released from the hospital, and the remaining seven are described only as stable, he said.

Investigation continues

Swanton said it was too early to say how many peole were shot by police officers because crime scene and ballistics investigations are ongoing.

He said the investigation is being hampered by witnesses who “are not being honest with us.”

Police are concerned that the brawl will invite retaliation and more violence, Swanton said.

“We would encourage them to try to be a little peaceful and let the bloodshed stop,” he said.

Preliminary autopsy results showed all nine of the dead were killed by gunshots. Many were hit in the head, neck, chest or torso. Most of the men were in their 40s, but they ranged in age from 27 to 65, according to reports released by a McLennan County justice of the peace.

Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it was unclear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.

Of the injured, seven remain hospitalized. Swanton, who has been virtually the sole source of law enforcement information on the fight, described their conditions as stable.

A portion of the Central Texas Marketplace Shopping Center remained closed Tuesday morning as investigators continue to process the scene.

Police still had to haul off more than 80 cars and pickups, along with the motorcycles that remained after some were taken away Monday.

“We consider all of them evidence,” Swanton said. He said it is too early to say what will eventually happen to all the vehicles.

He said about 50 weapons have been confiscated, primarily knives and firearms. But the list also includes a chain with a padlock, he said.

Released, rearrested

Three of the people arrested Sunday, all from Austin, were released from custody Tuesday but were back under arrest by evening, police said.

Jim Harris, Juan Garcia and Drew King had bail set lower than the $1 million set for all of the other suspects. They were able to post bond, Swanton said.

Later, a judge noticed their charges were similar to others arrested in the shootings and issued arrest warrants for them.

“They were not mistakenly released,” Swanton said. “Within the confines of the law, they had a right to bond. It was set very early. They made that bond.”

All three turned themselves in and were in the Travis County Jail late Tuesday.

Garcia, 45, an engineer with the Austin Public Works Department, is not on any statewide lists of known gang members, an Austin police spokeswoman said.

Judges issued orders saying suspects’ bail cannot be reduced without their approval. The first bail reduction hearing is scheduled for June 5.

Bandido says meeting was to discuss laws

A self-described member of the Bandidos says the meeting at Twin Peaks was organized to discuss motorcycle laws and other innocuous matters.

Jimmy Graves describes himself as an ambassador for the Bandidos motorcycle club. He disputes law enforcement claims that the gathering was a prelude to a violent battle.

Graves said the confederation of biker groups lobbies for laws protecting motorcyclists and discusses harmless topics such as trademarks for club logos.

He acknowledged that differences with other groups, such as the Cossacks, have been “simmering and brewing.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety, in an annual gang assessment report, describes the Bandidos as a criminal organization.

Another Texas motorcycle club member who was at the restaurant when gunfire broke also said he was there to discuss the rights of bikers and did not expect violence.

Johnny Snyder said Tuesday that he wasn’t hurt.

He told The Associated Press that he was questioned after Sunday’s shootings but not charged. Snyder declined to say what he saw inside the restaurant. He says he was only concerned about “me not getting shot.”

The 42-year-old long-haul trucker is vice president of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club in Waco. Snyder says members do charity events, have family gatherings — and are not gang members.

Snyder says he was attending a quarterly meeting of various motorcycle clubs about legislative issues.

State representative weighs in

State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, got involved Tuesday by asking the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission to permanently revoke the Waco restaurant’s liquor license.

Geren, chairman of the House Administration Committee who also serves on the licensing and administrative procedures committee, said TABC is already looking at the liquor license.

“If you don’t have the sense to listen to police and let something like this happen, I don’t know that you should have a liquor license,” Geren said.

Twin Peaks’ corporate office said Monday it had revoked the Waco franchise.

Palo Pinto rally canceled

The Palo Pinto County sheriff said he has asked the Cossacks Motorcycle Club to cancel its annual “Mingus Blowout” this weekend — the 14th annual event of its kind.

Roughly 300-400 bikers usually attend, Palo Pinto Sheriff Ira Mercer said.

“We never had a problem before, but in light of Waco I don’t think it’s safe right now,” Mercer said.

The Cossacks’ national officers begrudgingly agreed to cancel the party on their own property, he said.

But just in case, the road leading up to the land will be blocked off by several law enforcement agencies starting Wednesday pending approval of county commissioners, he said.

Staff writers Deanna Boyd and Monica Nagy contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press and the Austin American-Statesman.

Also see video at video.ap.org

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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