One minute customers of the Twin Peaks restaurants in Waco, Texas, were enjoying a "Sunday Fun Day" event with 29 degree drafts served by busty, plaid-clad waitresses. The next, they were taking cover and fearing for their lives after a bathroom fight spilled outside and turned a parking lot into a war zone of reckless gang violence.
Just after noon on Sunday, a scuffle between members of various motorcycle gangs turned into a full-blown melee of fists, chains, and guns. Now officials are saying that nine outlaws are dead, 18 are wounded, and about 170 more are being detained for their participation in what the Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police called "the worst crime scene — the most violent crime scene — that I have ever been involved in."
It seems like the dispute began over parking, but after the gang members shot at each other, they apparently turned their guns on police. Remarkably, no bystanders or police were hurt as officers and members of the Bandidos, Cossacks, and Scimitars gangs unloaded weapons outside a busy shopping plaza that includes a Mexican restaurant and an outdoor supplies store.
Police were already at the scene when the fight broke out because they anticipated problems with all the bikers congregating there. The Bandidos, formed in 1966 around Houston, is best known for its rivalry with the Hell's Angels, and has the distinction of being one of the most dangerous outlaw motorcycle clubs in the country, according to the Department of Justice. The Cossacks were established three years later, also in Texas, with the motto, "We take care of our own." Even less is known about the Scimitars, but they appear to be friendly with the Cossacks, as a May 2014 photo from the Odessa American shows members of both clubs volunteering to build a playground together.
In a Texas Gang Assessment report from April 2014, the Texas Department of Public Safety calls the Bandidos a "Tier 2" gang, along with the Bloods, Crips, and Aryan Brotherhood. Neither the Scimitars nor the Cossacks are mentioned.
Police say the owners of Twin Peaks, which hosts a regular Bike Night, actively courted the business of various motorcycle clubs despite multiple warnings. The authorities aren't the only ones who at least partially blame the owners for what happened on Sunday: The business's Facebook page is littered with angry comments, like one imploring them to enjoy their "blood money," and the national restaurant chain revoked the Waco franchise's charter on Monday. (The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had already shut it down for at least seven days.)
As of 7:30 Sunday night, bodies were still in the parking lot, and by Monday afternoon, more than 100 weapons had been recovered from the scene. But even though the violence has stopped for now, dozens of people are in the process of being booked for murder-related charges, and police, who anticipate possible retaliation, are suggesting the fighting might not be over.
"I will tell you that we have had threats against law enforcement officers throughout the night from various biker groups," Sergeant Swanton told CBS News. "We are very aware that some of them have come into our city, and we have a contingency plan to deal with those individuals as they try to cause trouble here."
UPDATE: Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton originally indicated that 192 people were arrested but has amended the number to 170, and suggested it might change again. This post will be updated as events warrant.
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