Authorities in Waco, Tex., say that threats against law enforcement officers have lessened somewhat since since the immediate aftermath of a bloody shootout Sunday involving motorcycle gang members and police officers.
Still, police warned that the bloodshed seen Sunday was likely not the end of the fight between the warring biker gangs.
“In the gang world and in the biker world, that violence usually condones more violence,” Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said during a news conference Tuesday morning. “Is this over? Most likely not. We would like it to be, we would ask that there be some type of truce between whatever motorcycle gangs are involved.”
Swanton declined to identify any of the gangs involved, but an arrest affidavit filed Monday said that the Bandidos and Cossacks were two of the groups involved in the fight. Experts say that the Cossacks, a smaller group, have been challenging the Bandidos’ dominance in the state, which has caused rising tensions between the groups.
Police have said that five known gangs were gathered Sunday at Twin Peaks, a restaurant known for waitresses wearing minimal clothing. There was a scheduled regional meeting there for the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a bikers’ rights association.
However, police said Tuesday that another group — believed to be the Cossacks — also turned up at the restaurant during the meeting.
“We know an additional biker gang that was not invited to this meeting showed up,” Swanton said. “Hence what we were calling somewhat of a turf war.”
While police have said that the lunchtime fight started in the restaurant’s bathroom before spilling out onto the patio and the parking lot, it was unclear if the fights inside and outside the venue were directly connected.
Swanton said Tuesday that authorities still believe “a parking issue” caused problems in the parking lot. The parking lot dispute may have started after a biker’s foot was run over by a motorcycle, he said.
Ultimately, at least nine bikers were killed and 18 people were injured. As of Tuesday morning, 11 of the injured people have been treated and released; the remaining seven people are in local hospitals and are stable or improving, he said.
Police officers were already near the restaurant because of concerns over violence breaking out at the meeting, and Swanton says that bikers firing at each other turned their weapons on the officers. Up to four officers fired shots at the bikers, but it is not known yet how many bikers were killed by police officers, Swanton said.
Still, authorities continue to remain alert after threats of possible payback against law enforcement officers, he said.
“There have been credible, reliable threats towards law enforcement in and around our area,” Swanton said. “I will tell you those have toned down a bit over the last 24 hours. We are absolutely thankful of that.”
Swanton said that police saw a surge of bikers heading to the area on Sunday afternoon and evening in the wake of the shootout and said that some of the people who arrived were arrested.
So far, 170 people have been arrested and charged with organized criminal activity after Sunday’s violence, and Swanton said additional arrests are possible.
The ongoing investigation into the shootout could take months, Swanton said.
Police are not releasing the identities of the people who were killed until they can notify their next of kin, which is taking some time, Swanton said.
Swanton said police are having issues with people calling authorities for information on deaths and injuries and claiming to be family members. But he said that police are waiting to release names until they confirm that they have spoken to a specific family member.
He continued to be critical of the management of the local Twin Peaks restaurant, which had its franchise revoked and was reportedly shut down by the corporation after the shootout.
Swanton said that police tried to work with the management after issues occurred involving biker groups meeting at the restaurant but described the business as being unhelpful.
On Tuesday, Swanton also provided an answer as to why the police officers wary of possible violence were stationed outside, rather than inside, the restaurant.
“The simple answer is we were not welcomed by management there,” he said.
[This post has been updated. First published: 11:55 a.m.]