Three rival motorcycle gangs turned a local restaurant into a shooting gallery Sunday afternoon and when the gunfire was over, nine people were dead and several were injured.
Waco police Sunday afternoon, assisted by Department of Public Safety troopers, police officers from several cities and deputies from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office were surrounding the Twin Peaks Restaurant, in the Central Texas Market Place after several people were reported shot during a rival motorcycle gang fight, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.
Police and troopers were in the parking lot trying to secure the area and protect citizens when a fight broke out inside the restaurant and spilled into the parking lot.
Swanton said the fight quickly escalated from fists and feet to chains, clubs and knives, then to gunfire.
Gang members were shooting at each other and officers at the scene fired their weapons, as well, Swanton said.
The scene at the Market Place between Don Carlos and Twin Peaks was absolute chaos, Swanton said.
The victims were taken by ambulance to Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest Medical Center, which later was placed on lock down, but officials at Hillcrest said they had no comment.
He also said police have been trying to work with management at Twin Peaks for several weeks but have been thwarted in their efforts to avoid a situation like happened Sunday afternoon.
A witness who was having lunch across the parking lot at Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant said he and his family had just finished eating and walked into the parking lot when they heard several gunshots and saw wounded being taken from the fight scene.
“We crouched down in front of our pick-up truck because that was the only cover we had,” the man, who asked not to be identified, said.
He and his family were travelling to Selina, Kansas and decided to stop for lunch.
He said he saw several wounded men being treated.
He also said there were several police officers at the scene and ambulances were responding to the scene to aid those hit by gunfire.
At about 2 p.m. a second crime scene was being investigated at the Waco Convention Center but only very few details were known about the situation there.
One law enforcement spokesman said there were several armed officers and EMS units on the scene and Washington Avenue and University Parks Drive in that area had been closed.
A News 10 photographer who was at the convention center said he witnessed several men being arrested there.
Officers also were en route to the Flying J Truck Stop, at New Road and Interstate 35 because a large number of bikers had been seen gathering there.
Swanton said the scene at Twin Peaks is “as secure as it can be right now,” Swanton said, but police are concerned that groups who were involved in the first incident may be moving to other locations in and around Waco where more violence could erupt.
Swanton said citizens should avoid the area until an all clear can be issued.
The Interstate 35 exit onto Loop 340 southbound is closed, as is the access road that runs alongside the Interstate.
“We have multiple medical and law enforcement resources in the area who are dealing with the issue,” Swanton said.
Ambulances from West, Limestone and Coryell counties were at the scene to assist local EMS units.
Trouble at Twin Peaks among rival bikers had been brewing for some time, District Attorney Abel Reyna told News 10 about two weeks ago.
Reyna said local police were on heightened alert in anticipation of trouble on Thursday nights, when Twin Peaks hosts a Biker Night.
Reyna said some weeks ago trouble erupted between two local motorcycle gangs and that spilled over into gangs from the Dallas-Fort Worth area showing up to support the local groups.