A fight between rival biker gangs has left nine dead, 18 injured and more than 190 in police custody in Waco, Texas. All of those killed, according to police, were bikers. Bonds have been set at $1 million as the investigation continues.
What Is Alleged
The bikers began to gather at the Twin Peaks bar-restaurant Sunday morning, prompting law enforcement to stage a dozen officers in the parking lot. A fight erupted in the restaurant (allegedly in the bathroom) and spilled into the parking lot. The fight began with fists and escalated to chains and knives, when shots rang out just after noon.
“There were maybe 30 guns being fired in the parking lot,” a witness told the Waco Tribune.
Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton of Waco PD said in his 35 years of law enforcement experience, “this is the most violent and gruesome scene that I have dealt with.”
Although there were at least five gangs involved in the fight, gang experts have suggested its something of a proxy war between the Bandidos and the Hell’s Angels for control of Texas. The Bandidos, one of the most notorious and feared motorcycle gangs in the world, was founded in San Leon, Texas, in 1966 by Donald Chambers, according to their website.
The other major faction in the fight was the Cossacks, aligned with the Scimitars, who have been agitating for control, with Hell’s Angels support. Tempers were aroused when Bandido chapter president Curtis Jack Lewis, of Abilene, Texas, allegedly stabbed two Cossacks in a fight in November 2013. Since this event, experts say, Cossacks have been rallying support to overtake the Bandidos in the state.
Kansas City-area police officer Steve Cook told the Washington Post: “My perception is that the Cossacks have been flirting, if you will, with Hell’s Angels. … If I’m a Bandido, my immediate reaction is: ‘These guys are going to try to make a move and bring an international gang into our state, which is going to cause a war.’
“The Bandidos already knew that the Cossacks weren’t going to play ball,” said Cook, “and when push came to shove and these guys weren’t cooperating, all hell broke loose. You can tell by the number of weapons involved that these guys came looking for a fight. They were prepared.”
Swanton says there were more than 100 bikers in the parking lot during the fight. More than 100 weapons were collected from the scene. Injured bikers are being treated at various area hospitals, some of which are on lockdown for fear of reprisal.
Even after the event, police continued to arrest bikers arriving on scene with weapons. According to Swanton, there has been a call out to other states by the gangs involved to send reinforcements. “We would encourage them not to,” he said “because we have plenty of space in our county jail to put them there.”
Responding to the assertion that there are motorcycle clubs and not biker gangs, Swanton did not mince words: “They are a biker gang. We know exactly who they are: A bunch of criminal element biker members that came to Waco and tried to instill violence into our community and unfortunately did just that.”
Earlier this month, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna told KWTX-TV that local police were on heightened alert for possible trouble on Thursday nights, when Twin Peaks hosts bike nights. Reyna said trouble between two local motorcycle gangs heated up when bikers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area got involved.
“Are we frustrated? Sure, because we feel like there may have been more that could have been done by a business to prevent this,” Swanton said.
Today corporate headquarters revoked the franchise of the Waco Twin Peaks.
[Update: We have learned that police were allegedly not allowed into the Twin Peaks restaurant until after the fight was well underway.
Sgt. Patrick Swanton says seven bikers are in the hospital and improving in condition; notifying next-of-kin for those killed has been challenging because the suspects aren’t talking; and reports that officers shot four of the nine dead are premature and baseless at this point. Said Swanton: “Whoever told you that, that person belongs on CSI, because the autopsies haven’t been completed.”
Also, two or three gangs were meeting at the Twin Peaks restaurant when a rival group arrived.
Although it is being widely reported that the fight began over a biker stealing a parking space or running over a rivals foot, this seems unlikely or a pretense at most. More than 100 armed bikers from outlaw gangs were there to fight, regardless of offense taken. May 20, 2015]