Police in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas said Tuesday they are bracing for the possibility of more motorcycle gang violence in the wake of a deadly shootout between rival bikers and police that left nine dead during a shootout two days ago at a restaurant.
Texas Police Bracing for More Motorcycle Gang Violence
Swanton said there have been "absolutely credible, reliable threats" made against police for their role in returning shots at the bikers when they fired on police after initially engaging in a firefight and brass-knuckled brawl among themselves.
History of Waco, Texas
Waco has been the site of some of the Lone Star State's most memorable recent history: the siege of the Branch Davidian compound, a tornado that leveled downtown and now a biker gang melee that left at least nine people dead and 18 wounded.
Background: The city of 129,000 people, standing halfway between Dallas and Austin on the Brazos River, is the birthplace of comedian Steve Martin and Dr Pepper, which is believed to have been developed in 1885 by a young pharmacist trying to bottle the collective scent of various carbonated drinks. It's also home to conservative Baylor University.
The Branch Davidians
Waco is widely known for the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in 1993, when agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh for stockpiling weapons and explosives at a ranch outside town. The confrontation led to a 51-day standoff that ended on April 19, when the complex caught fire, killing Koresh and nearly 80 of his followers. The land is still used by surviving Branch Davidians, some of whom live on a rebuilt portion of the ranch.
About 25 miles outside Waco is President George W. Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch. Known during Bush's presidency as the Western White House, Bush entertained foreign leaders including Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair at the ranch, which is near the small town of Crawford.
The school with about 16,000 students is one of the nation's top Baptist universities. Ken Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, is the school's president. The university's student conduct code banned dancing until 1996 and today still prohibits "homosexual acts."
Since last year, Waco has gained fame because of the hugely popular HGTV show Fixer Upper, starring Chip and Joanna Gaines, a Waco couple who rehabilitate historic properties across the city.
In a state where twisters are fairly common, Waco has its own footnote in tornado history. A catastrophic twister leveled downtown in 1953, killing 114 people and injuring hundreds more. It remains among the deadliest tornadoes in Texas history.
Source: The Associated Press
He said autopsies of the nine bikers killed at the Twin Peaks restaurant in a Waco shopping center have not been completed, so it is not known whether the motorcyclists or the police fired the fatal shots.
Swanton said the threats against police have diminished since Sunday's noontime violence, but pleaded with the motorcyclists to "let the bloodshed stop." He said seven of the 18 bikers injured in the melee remain hospitalized, but that the condition of most of them is improving.
He said police are questioning the 170 people arrested in the violence, but that their investigation has been "made difficult" by the suspects "not being truthful." But he vowed, "We will figure it out" and said there is a "very good possibility" of more arrests.
All 170 people have been jailed on charges of engaging in organized crime linked to capital murder. They were each ordered held on $1 million bonds.
Swanton said eight biker groups planned Sunday's gathering at Twin Peaks, a sports bar and grill with scantily clad waitresses, but one additional gang showed up uninvited. He said police believe the initial dispute started with an argument over parking and that then "somebody had their foot run over."
He said Waco police had been aware of the possibility of violence at the restaurant and were stationed outside, but the Twin Peaks management refused to let police position themselves inside the establishment before the bikers arrived.
Restaurant location closed
As the scope of the carnage became evident, the owners of the Twin Peaks restaurant chain on Monday revoked the franchise rights of the Waco operation.
The initial gunfire and fighting erupted inside, spread to an outside patio and then to the parking lot.
Police have been removing more than 200 motorcycles and cars from the parking lot at the restaurant, impounding them as evidence in the investigation.
The incident has focused attention on biker gangs that law enforcement officials said pose a great threat to public safety.
Swanton said that in his 34 years in law enforcement, the restaurant violence was "the worst crime scene, the most violent crime scene that I have ever been involved in.”
Federal and state authorities said the 2,000-member Bandidos gang is involved in drug smuggling and other types of organized crime. The gang formed in south Texas in the 1960s and now has affiliated chapters around the United States and in several other countries.