A shootout at a Waco, Texas, restaurant between rival biker gangs has left at least 9 dead and 18 wounded, police are saying. While law enforcement entities are still processing the crime scene, it appears as if the deadly melee in the midst of a gathering of some 200 bikers started as a fight in a bathroom.
“This is probably one of the most gruesome crime scenes I’ve ever seen in my 34 years of law enforcement,” Waco police spokesman Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said, the Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) May 18. He added, “I was amazed that we didn’t have innocent civilians killed or injured.”
In fact, not one of the reported dead and injured were bystanders, patrons of the restaurant, or part of the Twin Peaks restaurant’s management and staff. All were members of the five biker gangs gathered at the chain’s Waco site reportedly to peacefully hash out territorial boundaries and recruiting parameters. But shortly after noon Sunday, a dispute began in the bathroom that spilled out into the restaurant. Before it was over, guns, knives, chains and clubs would be used as violence erupted in and outside the Twin Peaks restaurant.
Of the nine people killed, eight were pronounced dead at the scene. One made it to a nearby hospital only to die there. Over 100 people were detained. McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara, whose office is actively involved in the ongoing investigation, said all nine bikers killed were members of the Banditos or Cossacks gangs.
At least a dozen local police were on hand when violence first broke out. According to CNN, during the melee, some of the police officers were fired upon and in turn fired their weapons, shooting armed bikers in efforts to try and gain control of the situation. It isn’t known at present if any of those killed or wounded were shot by members of law enforcement.
Local police were aware of the gathering in advance, Swanton admitted, but noted that Twin Peaks’ management had been uncooperative with addressing public safety concerns. The management issued a statement saying they had had an open dialogue with local police prior to the incident. However, Swanton labeled the statement a “fabrication.”
Rick Van Warner, a spokesman for the Dallas-based corporate franchisor, said that the franchise’s actions of the Waco Twin Peaks location may not have met company policies and standards with regard to safety and security. He said the the company would be reviewing the circumstances of the shooting incident and would “seriously considering revoking” the Waco location’s franchise agreement.
Besides local and state police, agents from the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the Waco scene to aid in the investigation.
Two weeks ago, District Attorney Abel Reyna told KWTX in Waco that authorities were anticipating trouble at Twin Peaks due to the restaurant hosting Biker Night on Thursdays. Reyna also said that a few weeks previously trouble had erupted between two local motorcycle gangs. Their scuffle radiated out and engaged biker gangs from the Dallas-Fort Worth who began showing up to support the local groups.