#WacoShooting: Who Are These Biker Gangs?
#WacoShooting: Who Are These Biker Gangs?
By now, everyone has heard about the shootout between rival biker gang thugs that killed nine people yesterday in Waco, Texas. Amazingly, no innocent bystanders were harmed in the gunfight that started in a Twin Peaks restaurant on Sunday and ended up outside in the parking lot, with gang members shooting at each other and police shooting at the biker gang members.
Nine people were killed and at least 18 more were injured in a melee Sunday involving guns, knives, clubs and other paraphernalia at the Twin Peaks restaurant. Police said Monday that more than 160 people were being arrested on Engaging in Organized Crime charges.
And the owner of this Twin Peaks has had his franchise agreement revoked by the corporate office for refusing to cooperate with police before the Sunday shooting.
“We are in the people business and the safety of the employees and guests in our restaurants is priority one,” the company said.
“Unfortunately the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants.
“We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are revoking their franchise agreement immediately. Our sympathies continue to be with the families of those who died and are very thankful no employees, guests, police officers or bystanders were hurt or injured,” the statement said.
This whole clash may have been sparked by an attempt to recruit more gang members.
Rival biker gangs — the Bandidos and the Cossacks, according to law enforcement sources — met for some type of recruiting at the Waco Twin Peaks location.
“That’s what started this process (Sunday), was a bunch of criminal element bikers that came to Waco and tried to instill violence into our society, and unfortunately they did that,” he said. (Waco Police Department Sgt. Patrick) Swanton also said members from up to five different bike gangs were involved.
The Bandidos were founded in Texas in 1966 and are considered an “outlaw motorcycle gang” by the FBI. Historically, the Bandidos have had an ongoing gang war with the Hells Angels, and the Cossacks (who were founded in Texas in 1969) may have been looking to affiliate themselves with the Hells Angels.
(Steve) Cook is a Kansas City-area police officer who says he’s worked undercover in gangs affiliated with the Bandidos.
In fact, Cook says that Sunday’s shootout closely parallels previous battles between the Bandidos and Hells Angels. Citing police sources in Waco, Cook says he understands the shootout started because a smaller gang called the Cossacks — backed by the Angels — challenged the Bandidos for control of Texas. Several other bike gangs might have joined the battle, too, angry over recent killings by Bandidos members.
“My perception is that the Cossacks have been flirting, if you will, with Hells Angels,” Cook said. “If I’m a Bandido, my immediate reaction is: ‘These guys are going to try to make a move and bring an international gang into our state, which is going to cause a war.’”
And this is not the first fight between the Bandidos and the Cossacks. Curtis Jack Lewis, a chapter leader of the Bandidos, stabbed two Cossack members in 2013. The wounds were not life-threatening, but obviously this was indicative of the clash between the two gangs.
The police may have been tipped off that some kind of clash was going to happen at the Twin Peaks restaurant, and the owner refused to cooperate. That would explain why the initial responding police were actually off-duty.
Off-duty officers were on the scene, they saw what was happening, armed themselves and tried to stop the battle, Swanton said. “That saved numerous lives,” he added.
Officers shot armed bikers, Swanton said, adding that the actions of law enforcement prevented further deaths. It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of the nine dead were killed by police officers.
And Cook warns that police need to take these biker gangs seriously.
“These guys are organized crime, but they are also domestic terrorists,” he told The Washington Post. “These guys are heavily involved in methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, motorcycle theft. Those are all primary businesses for them. The thing is, these guys want to put on this appearance, ‘Oh we’re just motorcycle enthusiasts and we just like to ride bikes.’ The evidence is quite to the contrary.”
Cook claims that most Americans, including many police, don’t take bike gangs seriously enough because “people have allowed themselves to be too romanticized” by the idea of bikers as modern-day bandits.
“They watch their ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and their little television shows. These guys all seem likable enough: that they are misunderstood, outlaws from the old days, and they ride motorcycles instead of horses,” he said. “Even cops think, ‘Oh they are just tattooed long haired guys who like to ride motorcycles.’ And the reality of it is they are long-haired tattooed guys who ride motorcycles and sell a hell of a lot of methamphetamine and murder people and steal motorcycles and extort people and beat people up in bars for no reasons.”
After all the violence and bloodshed on Sunday, here is hoping that most people are disabused of the “romantic” portrait of the biker gang, and instead count their blessings that no one innocent was harmed or killed when a gang war broke out in a restaurant.