Nine Dead After Rival Biker Gangs Fight in Texas Shootout, Police SayWACO, Texas, May 17 (UPI) — At least nine people were shot to death after rival biker gang members opened fire at a restaurant in Central Texas Sunday, authorities said.
According to police, three rival biker gangs began fighting at the Waco restaurant while multiple officers were out in the parking lot arranging protection for citizens. The fight started in the restaurant and spilled outside, KWTX-TV reported.
The officers were reportedly in the area because they had anticipated possible trouble at the restaurant — which has been the scene of ongoing tensions between bikers in recent weeks.
“We had officers on scene. We expected issues,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.
Investigators said the brawl began with punches and kicks, but escalated quickly to include the use of chains, clubs, knives and finally, firearms. Several people were shot, police said, and at least nine died.
Eight of the victims died at the scene and one later at a hospital. Several others were wounded in the fight. Police said on its Facebook page that the Central Texas Marketplace was closed following the shooting.
Police immediately secured the scene and urged residents to avoid the Central Texas Marketplace, a shopping center, CNN reported. District attorney Abel Reyna reportedly told police two weeks ago that trouble had been brewing among the biker gangs for some time.
“Thank goodness the officers were here, and took the action that they needed to take to save numerous lives.” Sgt. Swanton said.
The officers at the scene engaged the gunmen in the fight — firing their weapons, as well. However, Waco police said no officers were wounded in the gun battle.
The victims were taken to two nearby hospitals, one of which was placed on lockdown at one point, the KWTX-TV report said.
“We crouched down in front of our pick-up truck because that was the only cover we had,” one witness told the TV station.
Police later responded to a crime scene at the Waco Convention Center and a gathering of bikers at a local truck stop. However, it was not immediately known whether either of those incidents are related to the restaurant shooting.
Though the gunfire was confined to the shopping center, authorities said they were concerned that some of the bikers who left the restaurant might instigate violence elsewhere.
KWTX reported that police were on high alert near the restaurant Thursday, because it was “biker night” that night — and that violence erupted there a few weeks ago between two biker gangs.