The president of the local chapter of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club was freed from jail Friday but he can’t congregate with fellow Cossacks or other biker club members, which could prove challenging when he reopens his Interstate 35 motorcycle shop.
Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court reduced John Wilson’s bond from $1 million to $100,000 after a hearing Friday, but admonished Wilson that he would revoke his bond and put him back in jail if he violated any of the terms and conditions of his release.
About 120 of the 177 bikers arrested after the May 17 shootout at Twin Peaks have been released on reduced bonds. The vast majority of them came after negotiations between prosecutors and attorneys and approval by Strother or 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson during the past two weeks.
Wilson, owner of Legend Cycles, promised Strother that he and his 28-year-old son, Jake, whom Wilson appointed sergeant-at-arms for the local Cossacks group, both immediately will sever their affiliation with the Cossacks until after their criminal cases are resolved.
Jake Wilson remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bond. Strother has scheduled a bond-reduction hearing in Jake Wilson’s case for July 10 but court officials are trying to move it up to June 26 as more reductions are being negotiated.
Strother also ordered John Wilson to surrender the 30 guns he has collected at home and to wear an ankle monitor.
But Wilson acknowledged it might be difficult to keep away from bikers while he is trying to salvage his motorcycle shop business, which his wife, Bobi, testified has been closed since his arrest a month ago and is in jeopardy of going under.
Wilson told the judge there are only six Cossacks in the McLennan County chapter, adding that there are 600 to 700 total members. He said the overall president of the Cossacks lives in Gun Barrel City, prompting Strother to say, “That’s an appropriate name.”
Wilson did not testify, but volunteered to answer the judge’s questions, with his attorney, Michael White, of Temple, standing by.
Wilson said there were about 30 to 40 Cossacks at Twin Peaks that day and acknowledged that the Cossacks are not part of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents that were scheduled to meet there.
He said Waco police contacted him at his cycle shop before the Twin Peaks incident and asked if he could try to reach an accord with the rival Bandidos gang because of incidents between the groups in the months prior. He said he did not expect trouble that day, although he brought a pistol that he said he left on his motorcycle.
He said his first thought when the shooting started was to find his son and to seek cover.
But prosecutor Amanda Dillon told the judge that video shows Wilson moving toward the altercation, not away, when the melee started.