(WACO, Texas) — Nearly 200 suspected gang members were arrested after a meeting between rival Texas biker gangs turned into a deadly brawl, Waco police said.
Nine people died in the incident — eight at the scene and one at the hospital. The meeting had been scheduled so the rival gang members could settle their differences, police said.
Eighteen people were taken from the scene to hospitals, mostly for gunshot and stab wounds, Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said at a news conference. Everyone involved was a gang member, police said.
Police said 192 suspected gang members were arrested and processed on charges of engaging in organized crime.
“This was a true gang fight that occurred at this location,” Swanton said at a Monday morning news conference. He said the people involved in the brawl were using “bad-guy weapons” such as brass knuckles, knives and guns.
Members of as many as five biker gangs gathered at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in the Central Texas Market Place early in the afternoon to discuss their differences, Swanton said. A fistfight began and quickly escalated to include knives and firearms, and then spilled into the parking lot, where gang members fired at each other, Swanton said.
“As that fight progressed, it progressed very rapidly from hands and feet as weapons to chains,” he said. “My understanding [is that] a club was involved and knives were involved.”
Officers were at the scene when the shooting started, police said, and some officers fired at the bikers. No officers were injured, police said.
Police closed the entire Central Texas Market Place shopping area following the shooting. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene to help with the investigation.
Police did not immediately identify the gangs allegedly involved or the individuals detained.
Over the past few months, Swanton said, the police were aware of rival biker gangs causing issues at the Twin Peaks restaurant. The Twin Peaks Restaurant will remain closed for at least seven days due to “ongoing danger” following the shooting, police said.
“We have attempted to work with the local management of Twin Peaks to get that cut back to no avail,” he said. “They have not been of much assistance to us.”
Calls to Twin Peaks in Waco and the Twin Peaks corporate office were not immediately returned.
Jay Patel, operating partner of the Twin Peaks Waco franchise, posted a statement on Facebook saying: “We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today. We share in the community’s trauma. Our priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our customers and employees, and we consider the police our partners in doing so. Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police and we will continue to work with them as we all want to keep violent crime out of our businesses and community. We will continue to cooperate with the police as they investigate this terrible crime.”
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