The police charged 174 people with engaging in organized criminal activity on Monday, after a midday shootout at a shopping plaza in Waco, TX that left nine dead and 18 wounded.
Warfare broke out at a Twin Peaks restaurant in south Waco mainly between two biker gangs the authorities have now identified as the Bandidos and Cossacks gangs, with as many as five rival gangs involved. Reports say what had started as an argument escalated into a fist fight, a knife fight and then into a gunfight. Everyone involved was a gang member.
Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton said on the police department’s Facebook page that this was one of the worse crime scenes he’s ever seen. A one million dollar bond has been set for each of the 174 gang members.
“I think it is important to send a message,” The presiding McLennan County Justice of the Peace Walter H Peterson said in court, describing the amount as appropriate. “We had nine people killed in our community. These people just came in and most of them were from out of town. Very few of them were from in town.”
On Monday, Sgt. Patrick relayed that the police department has known about rising tensions within the biker gangs for months. Police knew of the gang’s plans to meet at the local Waco Twin Peaks before Sunday and reached out to the restaurant to not serve the bikers several times with no cooperation from the restaurant, this statement on Twin Peaks Facebook page which has now been deleted:
Statement from Jay Patel, Operating Partner, Twin Peaks Waco franchise:
“We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today. We share in the community’s trauma. Our priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our customers and employees, and we consider the police our partners in doing so. Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police and we will continue to work with them as we all want to keep violent crime out of our businesses and community. We will continue to cooperate with the police as they investigate this terrible crime.”
Sgt. Swanton said on Monday that the police department felt the restaurant’s statement was a “complete fabrication” and the police station had been working with the Twin Peaks National Office when the local chain wouldn’t cooperate. The restaurant chain has since revoked the franchise status of the Waco, TX location.
The restaurant has also been banned by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission(TABC) from selling liquor for at least 7 days at the request of the Waco police, while the TABC works with the Waco police to “investigate whether the restaurant’s operational or management policies contributed to an atmosphere which allowed the shooting to take place. Any wrongdoing uncovered during the investigation could result in further action against the restaurant, including monetary fines, further suspension, or cancellation of its TABC license to sell alcohol,” according to the press release.
An investigation is still under way.