There was sufficient probable cause to arrest three bikers following the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout, a visiting judge ruled Wednesday.
Sergio Reyes, 45, a member of the Desgraciados motorcycle group from Dallas; Ronald Scott Warren, 56, a Bandido from Sand Springs, Oklahoma; and Rolando Reyes, 41, a member of the Los Caballeros from Killeen, all challenged the legality of their arrests during examining trials Wednesday.
As he has in a number of other similar proceedings, visiting Judge James Morgan of Comanche County ruled there was sufficient probable cause for the arrests and that a grand jury could consider charges against the trio if the district attorney’s office decides to present cases against them.
At least six examining trials requested by bikers have ended with the same result, with each taking on a now-familiar theme.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials say mounting animosity between the Bandidos and Cossacks, fueled by several individual skirmishes around the state, came to a head on the Twin Peaks parking lot after the Cossacks attended a meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a coalition of biker groups, to send a message that Waco is a Cossacks town.
They also contend the Bandidos and their support groups rode into Waco as a show of force to remind the Cossacks they can’t wear Texas “rockers,” or patches, on their vests without getting permission from the Bandidos and paying dues to the confederation.
Attorneys for the bikers — as Susan Criss, of Galveston; and Mai Nguyen, of Dallas, did Wednesday — have been able to get Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Steven Schwartz to testify that he doesn’t know if their clients committed a crime or, in some instances, whether they had weapons with them.
He said they were wearing colors of motorcycle support groups and were aware of the bad blood brewing between the Bandidos and Cossacks.
Schwartz agreed with the attorneys that a person’s mere presence at the scene of a crime does not make someone guilty and told them he had no evidence that they conspired before May 17 to take part in the nation’s bloodiest biker war.
Nguyen argued that Sergio Reyes merely was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She said he was arrested simply because he wore a vest with patches that show support for the Bandidos, which Schwartz testified has been identified as a criminal street gang.
Nguyen said his arrest for wearing Desgraciados colors is like saying someone who wears a Ray Rice Baltimore Ravens jersey supports domestic violence.
Morgan told Nguyen that if the person wore the jersey in the lobby as Rice knocked out his then-fiancee in a New Jersey casino hotel elevator, it might suggest support.
Schwartz testified that the number of weapons they found in the area after the shootout that left nine bikers dead and 20 wounded “was like a tornado had gone through a gun and knife store.”
Criss, a former judge and prosecutor, said most at the COC&I meeting were there to receive a legislative update about new laws passed, just as lawyers or law enforcement officers might.