maked panicked patrons and bystanders fleeying for savety
Swanton said at least five rival gangs gathered at Twin Peaks for a meeting. Peaks for a meeting that he said focused on turf and recruitment, two areas where the groups have often clashed. Preliminary findings indicate a dispute broke out in a bathroom, escalated to include knives and firearms and eventually spilled into the restaurant parking lot, he said. There were 150 to 200 gang members inside the restaurant at the time. Shots were fired inside and outside the restaurant, he said.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara, whose office is involved in the investigation, said all nine who were killed were members of the Banditos or Cossacks gangs.
Swanton described the interior of the restaurant after a Sunday night walk-through, saying it was littered with bullet casings, knives, a club, bodies and pools of blood. Authorities would be working the rest of the night to process the reams of evidence, he said.
Police were aware of the meeting in advance, Swanton said, and at least 12 Waco officers in addition to state troopers were outside the restaurant, part of a national chain that features scantily clad waitresses, when the fight began.
"We've been made aware in the past few months of rival biker gangs ... being here and causing issues," Swanton said.
Officers shot armed bikers, Swanton said, adding that the actions of law enforcement prevented further deaths. It was not known if any of the nine dead were killed by police officers.
Swanton said that the restaurant's operators also were aware of the meeting in advance, and he described the management as uncooperative with authorities in addressing concerns.Doug Greeness, a biker from Belton, Texas, was near the scene Sunday evening. He said he's a member of a family riding club and was waiting for friends to be released from custody so he could return home.
Greeness, who was not inside the restaurant when the melee broke out, described the event as a meeting of a biker association called the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents. He said the group meets to "discuss issues within the biker community."
Officers with numerous law enforcement agencies were seen parked along the service road for I-35 near the city and were stationed in several points in downtown Waco around the local convention center. Swanton said authorities are increasing security in the area to prevent further violence among the gangs.
In addition to local and state police, agents from the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene about an hour and a half south of Dallas.