Police in Waco, Texas say nine people are dead and multiple people are injured after a shooting between rival biker gangs at a restaurant Sunday.
Authorities say the nine people killed in the shootout were all members of rival biker gangs that had gathered for a meeting.
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton told The Associated Press that eight people died at the scene of the shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant about noon Sunday and another person died at a hospital. The severity of injuries to others was not immediately known and it is not clear if bystanders at the restaurant were among the injured.
“There are still bodies on the scene of the parking lot at Twin Peaks,” he said. “There are bodies that are scattered throughout the parking lot of the next adjoining business.”
Swanton says the gangs had arranged to meet to discuss differences when a fistfight began and quickly escalated to include knives and firearms. He says there were “hundreds” of gang members and a small number of other patrons in the restaurant.
At least 18 people were transferred to local hospitals with gunshot and stab wounds, KCEN reports.
Swanton said Department of Public Safety troopers, police officers from several cities and deputies from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office have surrounded the restaurant to secure the area.
“Officers were on scene when shooting started,” the Waco Police Departmentposted on Facebook. “No officers have been injured.”
A photo from the scene showed dozens of motorcycles parked in a lot. Among the bikes, at least three people wearing what looked like biker jackets were on the ground, two on their backs and one face down. Police were standing a few feet away in a group. Several other people also wearing biker jackets were standing or sitting nearby.
Swanton said police were aware in advance that as many as five rival gangs would be gathering at the restaurant and at least 12 Waco officers in addition to state troopers were at the restaurant when the fight began.
When the shooting began in the restaurant and then continued outside, armed bikers were shot by officers, Swanton said, explaining that the actions of law enforcement prevented further deaths. Patrons and bystanders dove for cover.
It’s not known what triggered the violence but Swanton and McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said tensions had simmered among rival gangs for months.
“Apparently the management (of Twin Peaks) wanted them here and so we didn’t have any say-so on whether they could be here or not,” Swanton said.
Swanton told KWTX that the fight started in the restaurant with fists and feet, then escalated to chains, clubs and knives and then to gunfire.
“Please avoid the Central Texas Market Place as the area is NOT safe. Officers are continuing to arrest individuals coming to the scene with weapons,” the Waco Police Department posted on Facebook. “This is not the time to sight see as we are dealing with very dangerous individuals.”
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