9 Dead After Shootout Between Rival Biker Gangs In Central Texas

May 18, 2015
Originally published on May 18, 2015 10:34 pm

A brawl among as many as five rival motorcycle gangs turned deadly on Sunday in Waco, Texas. Nine bikers were killed and 18 injured at a popular sports bar frequented by the gangs. No bystanders or employees were hurt.

Waco police said trouble had been brewing at the Twin Peaks bar and grill for some time. Bikers had been congregating there in ever-increasing numbers, and there had been more and more arrests for fights and weapons. Authorities had intelligence that there was a high potential for violence on Sunday. And they were right.

About 12:15 p.m. local time, a fight reportedly started in the bathroom, then moved into the bar and finally spilled into the parking lot, where the motorcycle riders went at each other with guns, knives, chains and clubs.

Sgt. Patrick Swanton, a spokesman for the Waco police, says: "Our officers engaged hostile targets, and we started shooting at people who were shooting at other people. Those individuals also turned on our officers, and fired at our officers."

Waco police and SWAT team members — who were already on hand — returned fire. He said the investigation will determine which of the nine dead gang members were killed by other bikers or by police officers. Swanton described the crime scene as "gruesome."

Helicopter video from KTVT Channel 11 in Dallas showed about two dozen heavyset men wearing vests with their club insignia sitting glumly in the parking lot under heavy police guard. They were frisked, flexi-cuffed and loaded into a bus one by one. Scores of bikers are being held for questioning.

Police said all nine who were killed were members of two gangs, the Banditos and Cossacks.

The police spokesman criticized Twin Peaks for advertising weekly biker nights even as the crowd got rougher and rougher. Police said they tried to get the restaurant to stop hosting the outlaw gangs, but it refused.

A Twin Peaks official wrote on the corporation's Facebook page: "We are horrified" by the tragedy in Waco, and "we will continue to cooperate with police as they investigate this terrible crime."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A brawl between outlaw motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas, resulted in what authorities say is the worst violence that city has seen in over 20 years. Here's NPR's John Burnett.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Waco police said trouble had been brewing for some time at the Twin Peaks Bar and Grill. Bikers had been congregating in ever-increasing numbers, and there were more and more arrests for fights and weapons. Authorities had intelligence there was a high potential for violence on Sunday, and they were right.

About 12:15, a fight reportedly broke out in the bathroom, then moved into the bar and finally spilled into the parking lot where the motorcycle gangs went at each other with guns, knives, chains and clubs. Sgt. Patrick Swanton is spokesman for the Waco police.

PATRICK SWANTON: Our officers engaged hostile targets, and we started shooting at people that were shooting at other people. Those individuals also turned on our officers and fired at our officers.

BURNETT: Waco officers and SWAT members who were already on hand returned fire. Swanton said the investigation will determine which of the nine dead gang members were killed by other bikers or by police officers. He described the crime scene as gruesome.

Helicopter video from Channel 11 in Dallas shows about two dozen heavyset men wearing vests with the club insignia sitting glumly in the parking lot under heavy police guard as they're frisked, flexi-cuffed, and loaded onto a bus one-by-one. Scores of bikers are being held for questioning.

The police spokesman criticized Twin Peaks for advertising weekly biker nights even as the crowds got rougher and rougher. The Waco Tribune Herald reported two of the major gangs are the Banditos and the Cossacks. Police said they tried to get the restaurant to stop hosting the outlaw gangs, but they refused. A Twin Peaks official wrote on the corporation's Facebook page, we're horrified by the tragedy in Waco, and we'll continue to cooperate with police as they investigate this terrible crime. John Burnett, NPR News, Austin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.