As law enforcement struggled to process the nearly 175 new inmates in the wake of a Sunday brawl and shootout at Twin Peaks that killed nine and injured 18, more information was released about the nature of the shooting among five rival biker gangs.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said the book-in process for the suspects in what police have called a capital murder case — the last of which were delivered to the jail about 10:30 a.m. — has been a “slow and tedious process.”
He said all rival gang members will be kept in separate parts of the jail, adding, “we’re not going to let them intermingle for the safety of the officers and for the safety of the prisoners.”
Those arrested were all charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and taken to the McLennan County Jail, where they remained Monday evening on $1 million bonds.
McNamara, who was at the scene Sunday, said of the violence: “It was sickening. It was the last thing you’d ever expect to see on a bright Sunday afternoon.”
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton echoed that sentiment throughout press conferences with local, regional and national media at the scene Monday, where authorities still were sifting through evidence more than 24 hours after the episode began.
Swanton described bodies strewn across more than 100 motorcyles in pools of blood, surrounded by handguns, brass knuckles, chains and knives.
The nine people killed Sunday came from only two of the five biker gangs present, but the number of shots and who fired them will be part of a long investigative process, Swanton said.
While some media sources reported that four of those slain were killed by officers, Swanton called those reports premature “speculation” and said it’s still too early in the investigation to know, adding that ballistics evidence and preliminary autopsy results had not yet returned on the bodies.
He did not specify which of the gangs lost members.
Eighteen law-enforcement personnel were monitoring the meeting between the gangs, which happened frequently on Sundays at Twin Peaks, Swanton said.
Officials were aware that there was “bad blood” between the rivals and were concerned about Sunday’s meeting in particular, the sergeant said.
Police said they made several failed attempts at working with local management of the restaurant to address the situation but that local management would not cooperate.
The restaurant’s fate, which was unclear Sunday, was sealed after a series of blows Monday, following harsh criticism from the Waco Police Department.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended Twin Peaks’ license to serve alcohol within hours of the shooting. On Monday, the corporate parent of Waco’s Twin Peaks said it was shuttering that location permanently.
Most of Central Texas Marketplace reopened Monday, with the exception of Twin Peaks, Don Carlos and a group of stores between Cabela’s and Best Buy. Access to those stores had been cut off because of the ongoing investigation at the crime scene.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. on Monday joined the chorus of people condemning Sunday’s violent episode.
“Texas will not stand for the type of lawlessness we witnessed in Waco yesterday,” Abbott said. “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. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect innocent lives.”
Duncan released a statement late Monday lauding local officials and emphasizing the city’s resilience.
“I want to assure all of our citizens that your safety is and has been our priority and we are confident that this rogue event will not disrupt or endanger our community,” he said. “The future of Waco and McLennan County continues to shine brightly, and this tragic event will serve as a reminder of the strength and heart of a strong community.”
“Waco, you are safe,” Swanton said Monday, though he cautioned that all communities should be aware of the danger of biker gangs.
“This is Anytown USA, this can happen in any city, any town in the United States.”
Officials were concerned Sunday after receiving intelligence that additional biker gang members were riding into town, but Swanton said Monday there had not been any other related incidents or arrests throughout the city.