Texas

Hundreds of weapons found at scene of Waco shootout

AP

Investigators collected hundreds of weapons from the scene of the weekend melee at a Twin Peaks in Waco that left nine motorcycle gang members dead, 18 others injured and 170 in jail, Waco police said Wednesday.

The weapons count by Wednesday evening was at 318 “and still counting,” according to the Waco Police Department’s Facebook page.

They were in bags of chips, stuffed between bags of flour and into bench seating, hidden in shelves and trash cans, placed in stoves and tossed on floors.

“One weapon that was found in the commode caused it to overflow,” police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said in a telephone interview.

The breakdown Wednesday evening was 118 handguns, 1 AK-47, 157 knives and 43 “others.” Among the weapons found were clubs, brass knuckles and chains with padlocks attached. A bullet-resistant vest was also confiscated.

Police initially said there were 1,000 weapons, but later revised the number downward.

In addition to the weapons, investigators seized motorcycles, cars and trucks in the parking lot.

The Central Texas Marketplace, which includes numerous businesses and restaurants, was reopened early Wednesday after crime scene investigators finished collecting weapons.

Twin Peaks, however, remained a crime scene on Wednesday, as investigators continued to process evidence, Swanton said.

Police said the shootout started with a parking dispute and someone running over a gang member’s foot, and that an uninvited biker group also appeared.

Preliminary autopsy results indicated that all nine of the dead were shot. Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it is still unclear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.

The arrested bikers have all been charged with engaging in organized crime, and each is being held on $1 million bond. It is unclear how long they will remain in custody.

“Unless they try to make some other arrangement to move them through it more quickly, it could be weeks and possibly months” before the jailed bikers have bond-reduction hearings, said William Smith, an attorney who has met with several of the inmates.

It’s also unclear whether the McLennan County district attorney will require outside help to prosecute all those arrested Sunday.

One of the men arrested after the shootout is a retired San Antonio police detective.

San Antonio police and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement confirmed that 62-year-old Martin Lewis worked for the department for more than 30 years before retiring in 2004.

Online records for the McLennan County jail do not indicate that Lewis has an attorney who could comment on the charge.

Sturgis keeps an eye out for trouble

The gun battle has elevated security concerns for the upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

The annual rally draws hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to western South Dakota’s Black Hills. Organizers are expecting up to 1 million people this year for the 75th anniversary event in early August.

Attorney General Marty Jackley told the Argus Leader newspaper that his office has contacted authorities in Texas.

“We will be aware of the latest circumstances,” he said.

The state Division of Criminal Investigation plans to keep a command center open longer during the rally Aug. 1-8, Jackley said.

The Waco incident will not prompt rally organizers to add more security because additional law officers were already planned for the expected large crowd, Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said. The city plans to hire officers from at least 10 states as security, he said.

In 2006, six people were injured in an exchange of gunfire between two rival clubs at the Sturgis rally.

The FBI provides oversight at the rally. Spokesman Kyle Loven declined to disclose details about the agency’s rally preparations but said he doesn’t expect serious problems.

“Typically, that rally sees little to no violence,” Loven said. “It’s an event where motorcycle enthusiasts come to town to show off bikes to meet other folks, so historically speaking, law enforcement hasn’t seen any serious issues in connection with the event.”

Law enforcement agencies also are preparing for an annual motorcycle rally in northern New Mexico.

Around 20,000 bikers are expected to attend the Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally in Red River this weekend. Officials say past attendees included the Bandidos.

Red River Town Marshal David Smith said 50 officers from different agencies will patrol the area to the Colorado border every day but authorities don’t believe there will be any spillover from Waco.

Other Memorial Day motorcycle rallies are scheduled in Buckhorn, Mo., and Gulfport, Miss.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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