-- A biker brawl in Waco, Texas, over the weekend may have been sparked by an uninvited biker gang showing up at a meeting between other gangs, police said today.
The subsequent violent brawl involving as many as five Texas biker groups left nine suspected gang members dead and 170 in custody, police said. The Waco Police have not identified the gangs allegedly involved.
All nine of those killed died from gunshot wounds, according to autopsy reports, and the manner of death for each victim is homicide. The ages of those killed range from 27 to 65.
Eighteen people were taken from the scene Sunday to hospitals, mostly for gunshot and stab wounds, police said. Seven remain in the hospital today, they added.
"That meeting is a coalition of several bike groups that were invited to come to Twin Peaks Restaurant," Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said at a news conference today. "They had rented out or asked for the outdoor bar area specifically for a meeting that they were having of a group of invited biker gangs."
"We know an additional biker gang that was not invited to this meeting showed up," Swanton added. "Hence, what we were calling somewhat of a turf war, if you will.
"When those individuals showed up, there was a disturbance in the parking lot. ... We thought that was about a parking issue. We still believe that that may have been what it was," Swanton said. "I have additional information this morning that may go beyond a parking incident to somebody had their foot run over and started the disturbance in the parking lot."
Regardless of what sparked Sunday's dispute, it eventually escalated into a brawl involving knives and firearms, and then spilled into the parking lot, where gang members fired at each other, Swanton said.
Swanton added there have been credible threats to law enforcement around the Waco area, but police "think those threats are toning down a bit."
"Are we asking for cooperation from known criminal bike gangs? Absolutely we are," Swanton said. "We are asking them to stand down. We are asking them to let us sort through our investigation. ... We look forward to trying to work with everybody that may have been involved in this."