The Waco Police Department announced late Tuesday that the Central Texas Marketplace shopping mall will reopen early Wednesday, days after a shootout between rival biker gangs left nine people dead. The Twin Peaks restaurant, the scene of the gunfight, will remain closed.
Local police also said Tuesday that Sunday’s deadly shootings were apparently triggered after a dispute in the restaurant's parking lot when someone ran over a gang member’s foot. Over 50 weapons, including clubs, knives and firearms, were found at the site.
“Great news for our local businesses who have been so patient with our investigation! The entire Central Texas Marketplace will reopen in the early morning hours tomorrow. Normal access will be available starting at 3:30 am Wednesday morning. The only non-access area will be the restaurant that is our initial crime scene,” the police department wrote on its Facebook page.
The shooting, which also injured 18 members of the biker gangs, happened after an uninvited gang arrived at a meeting organized by several gang members, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said, according to the Associated Press (AP). One of the gang members was reportedly injured when a vehicle rolled over his foot causing a dispute, which continued inside the restaurant.
A preliminary autopsy report revealed that all nine dead were killed by gunshots. Most of the men were in their 40s, according to AP, which cited reports released by a McLennan County justice of the peace. Nearly 200 people from at least five biker gangs were charged with engaging in organized crime on Tuesday.
Police have said that the territorial biker gangs, who came from all over Texas, had gathered at the restaurant to settle turf differences. However, Jimmy Graves, who claimed to be an ambassador for the gang named Bandidos, denied the claim, saying that the groups met to discuss laws protecting motorcycle riders, AP reported.
On Tuesday, Swanton said the restaurant's management could have done more to prevent the incident as police officers were at the scene before the fight broke out, having been forewarned of the meeting. The restaurant's management was also criticized for ignoring the police department's advice to ban biker gangs.
The Twin Peaks restaurant chain blamed the managers of the Waco franchise, noting they ignored warnings from the police and the company itself. "We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are revoking their franchise immediately," the Dallas-based company said.