McLennan County and the city of Waco plan to seek more than a half-million dollars from programs run by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office to help cover costs associated with the deadly May 17 Twin Peaks shootout in Waco.
Waco-McLennan County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Patterson said the city is compiling its data to submit for a Justice Assistance Grant in hopes of receiving $300,000 to $350,000.
Patterson said he aims to have all the information collected from the various departments involved that day to submit the application in the next month or so.
Dustin Chapman, the county’s legal counsel, said $250,000 to $270,000 is available to the county, if approved through the governor’s County Essential Services Program. The funds would help cover costs associated with sheriff’s deputies’ overtime and the housing and feeding of inmates.
It wasn’t until late August that the last of the bikers was released from behind bars. Only three of the 177 arrested were able to post the $1 million bonds set after the mass arrests.
State Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, said after the shootout he and several other leaders visited with Abbott about funding to help cover the expenses incurred by the city and county.
Anderson said he doesn’t want McLennan County taxpayers to bear the burden of the expenses because it wasn’t an area problem. He said McLennan County just happened to be the location where two rival gangs chose to hold a gunfight.
“Those bikers weren’t from Waco. They were from all over,” he said. “It wasn’t anything that McLennan County did. Matter of fact, the sheriff’s office tried to prevent them from meeting there.”
Patterson said the city hopes to cover expenses not only for law enforcement resources that day, but the power plant lights that were stationed in the Twin Peaks parking lot and used for a number of days, as well as for work done to secure the area.
“The police department is just getting bills in for autopsies, (and) that will be something added,” he said.
Tallying actual costs
Chapman said the total the county is asking the governor’s office for does not represent actual costs to the county, but simply what is available through the program. County leaders still are compiling actual costs associated with the event that left nine dead and 20 wounded, he said. Chapman said there is no deadline to submit a request for the reimbursement costs.
The County Essential Services Program provides financial assistance to counties for essential public services, including law enforcement services, jail services and court services, according to the Office of the Governor. It also aids in the reimbursement of extraordinary costs incurred for the investigation or prosecution of capital murder or crimes committed because of bias or prejudice.
“We have not sought out funding help from any other programs,” Chapman said.
He said the last time the county tapped the governor’s County Essential Services Program was when it received $40,000 to $50,000 to cover costs from a two-week capital murder trial in Georgetown.
Chapman said the funding covered costs incurred by having to send deputies to Williamson County in 2013 when Albert Leslie Love Jr. was tried for the March 2011 ambush-style slayings of Tyus Sneed, 17, and Keenan Hubert, 20, They each were shot eight times as they sat in the back seat of a car at the Lakewood Villas apartments on Spring Street in Waco.
Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court moved Love’s trial to Williamson County after the Waco trial of Love’s co-defendant, Rickey Donnell Cummings, who was assessed a death sentence before Love’s trial.
County Judge Scott Felton said the governor’s office called the county immediately after the May 17 shootout to offer support. The governor’s office staff has worked closely with the county to help uncover where additional funding could be accessed, he said.
Felton said it is likely that more information will be brought before commissioners at an upcoming meeting.
“It’s unfortunate for Waco and fortunate for Austin that (the bikers) didn’t have their meeting in Austin, as originally planned,” Felton said.
Commissioner Will Jones said Abbott has been supportive of the county’s officials since the shootout at Twin Peaks.
“We could definitely use any help we can get,” Jones said.