170 bikers held over restaurant shootout that left nine dead
About 170 members of rival motorcycle gangs have been charged with engaging in organised crime following a shootout at a Texas restaurant in which nine people were killed and 18 others injured.
The crowd of suspects was so large that authorities opened a convention centre to hold them all before they were arrested, police said.
Sunday’s melee at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco drew a broad police response that included placing officers on top of buildings and highway overpasses to watch for other bikers rushing to the scene to retaliate.
Waco Police Sergeant W Patrick Swanton said authorities had received threats from biker groups against law enforcement “throughout the night” after the shooting and that authorities stood ready to confront any more violence. He said the threat of retaliation is high.
McLennan County Justice of the Peace WH Peterson set bond at $1m (€890,000) for each suspect. He defended the high amount, citing the violence that quickly unfolded in a shopping market busy with a lunchtime crowd.
“We have nine people dead, because these people wanted to come down and what? Drink? Party?” he said. “I thought it was appropriate.”
Mr Peterson also performed inquests on the nine dead bikers but declined to identify them.
Police acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it was unclear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.
Sgt Swanton said the Waco Convention Centre was used to hold the suspects temporarily as police rushed to secure many parts of the city amid reports of rival bikers going elsewhere to continue the fight. Those at the convention centre were later taken to jail.
Sgt Swanton said it was too early to determine how many motorcycle gang members will face murder charges.