One of Brian’s Favorite Quotes
The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion.”
— Lewis Mumford
in Anne Chisholm, Philosophers of the Earth: Conversations with Ecologists, 1972
Police ramp up security to prevent further violence after fatal Texas biker gang …
Police were ramping up security in Waco, Texas, Monday, fearing further violence in the wake of a brawl and shootout between members of rival motorcycle gangs a day earlier that left nine dead and 18 injured.
Authorities increased security to quell fresh attempts at criminal activity in the Central Texas town following the melee Sunday, Waco Police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.
“Our citizens are safe. I will tell you that we have had threats against law enforcement officers throughout the night from various biker groups. We are very aware that some of them have come into our city and we have a contingency plan to deal with those individuals if they try to cause trouble here,” Swanton said at a news conference early Monday.
Parts of downtown Waco were on lockdown after the shooting, and officials stopped and questioned motorcycle riders. Agents from the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting local and state authorities in the investigation.
About 170 people were arrested on charges of engaging in organized crime. Earlier, Swanton said 192 people had been arrested but later revised that number downward.
The violence erupted shortly after noon local time at a busy shopping center along Interstate 35 that was full of people, including families marking Baylor University’s graduation this weekend. Authorities said the gangs were meeting at a Twin Peaks restaurant to settle disputes over territory and recruitment.
Swanton told the Associated Press eight people died at the scene of the shooting and another person died at a hospital.
Authorities said all nine who were killed were members of the Bandidos or Cossacks gangs, and there were at least five gangs inside the restaurant. Injuries suffered by victims included stabbing and gunshot wounds, with some being treated for both.
“This is probably one of the most gruesome crime scenes I’ve ever seen in my 34 years of law enforcement,” Swanton said. “Within 25 feet there were families eating dinner … I was amazed that we didn’t have innocent civilians killed or injured.”
Preliminary findings indicate a dispute broke out in a bathroom, escalated to include knives and firearms and eventually spilled into the restaurant parking lot, Swanton said. There were 150 to 200 gang members inside the restaurant at the time. Shots were fired inside and outside the restaurant, he said.
Swanton described the interior of the restaurant after a Sunday night walk-through, saying it was littered with bullet casings, knives, a club, bodies and pools of blood. Authorities would be working the rest of the night to process the reams of evidence, he said.
The Dallas Morning News reported that chains and brass knuckles also were used.
Police were aware of the meeting in advance, Swanton said, and at least 12 Waco
Swanton said that officers shot armed bikers, which he said may have prevented further deaths. It was not known if any of the nine dead were killed by police officers.
“We’ve been made aware in the past few months of rival biker gangs … being here and causing issues,” Swanton said. He said that the restaurant’s operators also were aware of the meeting in advance, and he described the management as uncooperative with authorities in addressing concerns.
“Apparently the management [of Twin Peaks] wanted them here and so we didn’t have any say-so on whether they could be here or not,” Swanton said.
A statement sent Sunday night on behalf of Jay Patel, operating partner for the Waco franchise, said, “Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police,” and added that the restaurant was cooperating with the investigation.
Swanton addressed Patel’s statement late Sunday night, calling it a “fabrication.”
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission closed the Twin Peaks location for a week out of fear of more violence, Swanton said.
Rick Van Warner, a spokesman for the Dallas-based corporate franchisor, said the company is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the shooting and is “seriously considering revoking” the Waco location’s franchise agreement.
Van Warner said he couldn’t address what the franchise owners “did or didn’t do leading up to this,” but added that the company is “very upset that clearly our standards of safety and security were not upheld in this particular case,” he said.
Doug Greeness, a biker from Belton, Texas, was near the scene Sunday evening. He said he’s a member of a family riding club and was waiting for friends to be released from custody so he could return home.
Greeness, who was not inside the restaurant when the melee broke out, described the event as a meeting of a biker association called the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents. He said the group meets to “discuss issues within the biker community.”
Officers with numerous law enforcement agencies were seen Sunday parked along the service road for I-35 near the city and were stationed in several points in downtown Waco around the local convention center.
“I am feeling a lot of anxiety,” said Darhonda McFarland, assistant manager at a Denny’s restaurant at the nearby Flying J Travel Center. McFarland told the Waco Tribune that some 30 bikers clad in black walked into the restaurant shortly after the shooting.
They sat down, but then abruptly got up and left, she said. About five minutes later, a SWAT team arrived, searched the restaurant and questioned people in the parking lot.
“I have never personally been caught up in anything quite like this from such a personal point of view. It was too close for me,” she told the newspaper.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the hospital where most of the injured were taken was briefly sealed off by police in an effort to prevent the possibility of more violence.
“You could not get into the entrance unless you were having a heart attack or having a baby or in an ambulance,” one woman told the paper. Officers searched everyone entering the hospital for weapons and moved relatives of the injured bikers to a separate waiting area.
Swanton told reporters that police had received information that more bikers were on their way to Waco late Sunday in response to the shootout.
“I would encourage them not to [come here],” Swanton said. “Because we have plenty of space in our county jail.”
In a 2014 gang threat assessment, the Texas Department of Public Safety classified the Bandidos as a “Tier 2″ threat, the second highest. Other groups in that tier included the Bloods, Crips and Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
The Bandidos, formed in the 1960s, are involved in trafficking cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
El Paso authorities in 2012 said several Bandido members were involved in an assault and robbery at two bars, according to the assessment. State arrest warrants were issued for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, engaging in organized crime and other crimes, and six of the suspects were arrested.
The Texas assessment doesn’t mention the Cossacks.
There’s at least one documented instance of violence between the two groups. In November 2013, a 46-year-old from Abilene who police say was the leader of a West Texas Bandidos chapter was charged in the stabbings of two members of the Cossacks club.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Click here for more from MyFoxDFW.com.
Click for more from the Dallas Morning News.