Approximately 170 outlaw motorcycle gang members are being charged with engaging in organized crime related to capital murder stemming from a deadly shootout that left nine dead and 18 injured in Waco Sunday. All of those arrested are being held on $1 million bond each.
McLennan County Justice of the Peace W.H. Peterson set the bond Monday for each suspect and described the amount as "appropriate" given the level of violence that occurred a day earlier at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Peterson also performed inquests on the nine dead bikers but declined to identify them pending notification of family. Peterson said all nine were from Texas.
During a news conference late Monday morning, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said the department had assigned 18 officers, including an assistant chief, sergeants, a tactical officer and a rookie officer, as well as four state troopers, to watch for trouble at the restaurant after recent arrests for warrants and fights among biker gangs. Swanton credits those officers with saving an untold number of lives as the shooting erupted Sunday.
"Those officers reactions and their action to a very hostile, deadly situation, saved our citizens lives yesterday afternoon. We knew there were issues here at the Twin Peaks based on intel we received about biker gangs being here. We've been here over the past two months because of the problems we've had with biker gangs at Twin Peaks," Swanton said.
About 24 hours into the investigation, Swanton said before noon Monday that the disturbance at the restaurant began in the restroom and quickly escalated to an outdoor patio bar area. Shots were fired inside the restaurant by rival gang members targeting, at first, only each other.
"That disturbance moved into the parking lot very quickly. Our officers responded very quickly and appropriately. As we pulled up on scene, the shooting at individual bikers, from bikers, turned toward us. Our officers took fire and responded, appropriately returning fire," Swanton said. "We had wounded inside, we had people stabbed, we had people shot and we had people beaten."
The officers stationed outside were quickly joined by several off-duty officers who rushed toward the restaurant to assist after hearing the gunfire while shopping.
"Let me make sure everyone understands how real life works. A lot of times you see in movies somebody gets shot and they immediately fall to the ground. That is not real life," Swanton said. "Real life is it hurts when you get hit. Typically you want to get away from that. We know that as people were inside being shot at, they were hit, they left the establishment trying to get away and then collapsed outside ... there were individuals that were deceased, scattered throughout the parking lot."
Once the shooting subsided, police corralled about 170 people. Those individuals, Swanton said, are being booked or have been booked into the McLennan County Jail.
"Those individuals are being charged with engaging in organized crime in reference to the shooting at Twin Peaks, which is a capital murder. It's a capital murder because of the number of victims killed in one episode here," Swanton said.
Swanton said the number of shots, including who shot who, is part of the ongoing investigative process. He added that officers recovered a variety of weapons from the scene including brass knuckles, chains, clubs, knives and handguns.
"This is a criminal element that came in here yesterday and killed people. They're not here to drink beer and eat barbecue," he said. "They came with violence in mind and were ready for it. I think you can see by the number of weapons that we have recovered from here today, they didn't come here to eat and have a good time with their family."
Early Monday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott assured citizens that the state would make all resources available to the Waco police as they continue their investigation into the mass shooting.
“Texas will not stand for the type of lawlessness we witnessed in Waco yesterday. My office, along with law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels, is committed to providing any and all resources needed to support the Waco Police Department and the local community," Abbott said. "I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the first responders who put themselves in harm's way to protect innocent lives.”
Twin Peaks Open, No Alcohol; Franchise Revoked
Swanton said the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission has suspended the restaurant's liquor license for seven days, but the restaurant is allowed to remain open to serve food.
"I hope that they have the courtesy and respect for our citizens and the dead individuals there, that they will use this as a cooling-off period and not be open for business," Swanton said. "That is not our call. It is our desire they do that. It'll be up to the management here whether they do that or not. We can tell you that they will not be allowed to have any liquor sales and they will not be allowed to move any liquor in or out of that establishment for 7 days."
If they open, how long they'll remain open remains to be seen since Dallas-based Twin Peaks revoked the franchise rights for the Waco location Monday morning.
"This restaurant will not be allowed to reopen as a Twin Peaks, use our recipes, trade dress, logos, etc. We are in process of revoking their franchise agreement," said Rick Van Warner, Twin Peaks corporate spokesman.
Van Warner added that Twin Peaks signage will come down only after the police have completed their investigation into the shooting.
"The notion that we as a company were warned and did nothing is false. We immediately alerted this franchisee, but they chose to ignore the warnings from both police and our company."