A judge Monday set bail at $1 million for each of the nearly 200 bikers who were arrested Sunday in shootout that claimed the lives of nine people at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas. Sheriff Parnell McNamara said all of the suspects would be booked into the McLennan County Jail, though a number of them may ultimately be transferred to different facilities, KWTX, Waco, reported.
Sunday’s gunbattle will go down as one of the largest and bloodiest among rival biker gangs. Though the bikers allegedly opened fire on the police and SWAT teams who arrived to break up the fight, none of the 27 people injured or killed were civilians or members of law enforcement. "I was amazed that we didn't have innocent civilians killed or injured," Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton told a news conference Sunday afternoon. Everybody arrested will face charges of engaging in organized crime.
More than 190 people have been arrested in the incident, which saw five biker gangs convene at the Twin Peaks restaurant franchise looking to recruit new members. The gang members were armed with bats, knives and chains as well as guns. Witnesses said more than 30 firearms were discharged during the incident.
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Authorities were already watching the location, and the managers of the Twin Peaks location that served as the backdrop for Sunday's incident had been warned repeatedly not to serve bikers. Twin Peaks’ corporate offices announced the chain had revoked Waco’s franchise agreement Sunday.
“What happened today could have been avoided if ... a local establishment [listened] to their police department,” Swanton told reporters.
Though the battle involved five groups, authorities put much of the blame at the feet of two specific gangs: the Bandidos and the Cossacks. The Bandidos, once one of the most feared motorcycle gangs in the United States, have been engaged in a turf war with the Cossacks in the past several months. The Texas Department of Public Safety issued a bulletin May 1 indicating tensions between the groups were running high, and violent encounters showed “no signs of diminishing.”
Police remained alert for signs the two gangs may seek retribution.