Terrified patrons and flippant, scantily clad waitresses alike witnessed a rare “true biker shootout” at the Waco, Texas Twin Peaks Sports Bar and Grill on Sunday. Although details were initially sparse, the story seems to have begun when members of several rival biker gangs agreed to meet at Twin Peaks to discuss a territorial disagreement.
When tensions flared in the men’s room, the meeting to resolve what Reuters called “a dispute over a parking lot,” quickly escalated into a dispute in a parking lot where as many as five rival gangs brandishing bats, brass knuckles, knives, clubs, guns, and motorcycle chains set about attacking one another in a melee involving hundreds of bikers.
Police — who were aware that trouble might be brewing down at the Twin Peaks and who had actually warned the franchise owner that a biker brawl might be in the cards — quickly joined the shootout after the bikers “turned their guns” away from each other and onto the officers. In the end, the restaurant parking lot was littered with blood and bullets, 9 bikers were dead, 18 were injured, and 192 were arrested.
Here's aerial footage of the arrests (set to fun music), cell phone footage, and more images from the melee:
For those interested in the backstory behind Sunday's 'event', read on.
Two days after the harrowing high noon hostilities, details have begun to emerge. As The NY Times reports, the two instigating gangs look to be the Cossacks and the Bandidos who are engaged in a “long-running feud”:
Law enforcement officials said the midday gun battle was primarily between the Bandidos and Cossacks gangs, a continuation of a long-running feud between the two groups, though members of the Scimitars — a gang affiliated with the Cossacks — and two other motorcycle clubs were also involved…
The people arrested after the shootout at the Twin Peaks Restaurant, in south Waco, were charged with engaging in organized crime linked to capital murder, said Sgt. Patrick Swanton, a Waco Police Department spokesman. It will be up to prosecutors and a grand jury to decide what charges they will ultimately face, but capital murder charges can carry the death penalty.
With hundreds of bikers gathered at the restaurant, at the Central Texas Marketplace shopping plaza just off Interstate 35, the police anticipated trouble and were out in force before the confrontation. There were 18 Waco officers and four Texas Department of Public Safety officers there, and they closed in “within 30, 45 seconds” of the start of shooting, Sergeant Swanton said.
“There were multiple people on the scene firing weapons at each other,” he said. “They then turned on our officers. Our officers returned gunfire, wounding and possibly killing several”...
Both the Bandidos and the Cossacks originated in Texas in the 1960s, according to law enforcement officials and gang historians. Last year, two members of the Bandidos, including the president of the Abilene chapter,were indicted on charges of stabbing two other men, in what the police said was a conflict with the Cossacks.
“The view of the Bandidos is that Texas is their state,” said Terry Katz, vice president of the International Association of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators, a group of about 600 analysts, investigators, police officers and prosecutors. The Bandidos “are the big dogs of Texas,” he said, but the smaller Cossacks gang was “not going to bow down,” and there has been a series of violent confrontations between them…
The Bandidos are one of the few major biker gangs in the United States and the world. A 2013 national gang report produced by federal law enforcement agencies identified the Bandidos as one of five motorcycle groups — in addition to the Hells Angels, Pagans, Outlaws and Iron Horsemen — that posed the most significant gang threat around the country.
The Boston Globe has more:
The group is generally considered the world’s second-largest biker gang, behind the Angels, with as many as 2,500 members in 13 countries, according to the Department of Justice.
The Bandidos’ story charts the rise of biker gangs from counterculture clubs to fearsome organized crime organizations and helps to explain why tragedy struck on Sunday in a city already associated with spectacular violence.
The Bandidos began almost 20 years after the Hells Angels, but the two gangs soon became bitter rivals. According to the motorcycle club’s legend, founder Donald Chambers was bored with other bike clubs. ‘‘Chambers started the Bandidos in March 1966, when he was 36 years old and working on the ship docks in Houston,’’ Skip Hollandsworth wrote in a 2007 profile of the gang. ‘‘He told his friends that he was naming his club the Bandidos, in honor of the Mexican bandits who refused to live by anyone’s rules but their own, and he began recruiting his first members not only out of Houston but also out of the biker bars in Corpus Christi, Galveston, and San Antonio...
‘‘By the late 1970s local police and federal investigations began to expose the involvement of many 1% [motorcycle clubs] in drug trafficking, theft, extortion, and prostitution rings,’’ Quinn writes. Chambers was caught in 1972, when he and two other Bandidos were arrested for killing two drug dealers in El Paso…
In the mid 1990s, a ‘‘Great Nordic Biker War’’ between the Bandidos and the Hells Angels shook Scandinavia. At least 12 people died and nearly 100 were injured in the three-year skirmish, which featured unprecedented firepower for a gangland rivalry…
The two bike gangs faced off again in Canada during the late 1990s and 2000s. This time, the conflict — dubbed ‘‘The Quebec Biker war’’ — reportedly cost 150 lives.
Steve Cook, a Kansas City police officer who’s worked undercover in biker gangs told The Globe the following about Sunday’s shootout:
‘‘My perception is that the Cossacks have been flirting, if you will, with Hell’s Angels. If I’m a Bandido, my immediate reaction is: ‘These guys are going to try to make a move and bring an international gang into our state, which is going to cause a war.’’’