Horror biker brawl turned gunfight that left 170 jailed and nine dead

A brawl stemming from a dispute about motorcycle club jackets devolved into an horrific gunfight that left nine people dead and over 170 jailed.

The fatal gunfight occurred in Waco, Texas, at a regularly scheduled regional meeting for bikers under the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a group which aimed to resolve political disputes for bikers.

Disputes between two rival groups, The Bandidos and the Cossacks, spilled over into the meeting which took place at a Twin Peaks-themed restaurant seven years ago today (May 17, 2015).

Police were alerted to the meeting and had more than a dozen officers on standby for the encounter, which eventually turned into a brutal massacre of bikers.

Reports indicate that shots began at 12:24pm at the restaurant, with the nine people killed in the fight receiving fatal bullet wounds, with a cascade of shots from both biker gangs and police officers.

Waco Police Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton had declined to reveal details of how many of the dead and injured were shot by the police, saying at the time: "They started shooting at our officers and our officers returned fire."

The conflict between the Bandidos and Cossacks is said to have spilled over because of "Cossacks members refusing to pay Bandidos dues for operating in Texas" as well as "wearing the Texas bottom rocker on their vests," a public safety report said.

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Nine people were killed in the attack, with six Cossacks, one Bandido, one member of the Scimitar biker gang and an unafilliated party left dead.

In total 18 people were injured in the attack and 177 were arrested in the brutal shootout that was quickly investigated by police, with a recovery haul of 320 weapons from the crime scene.

Handguns, an AK-47 style rifle and Swiss army knives were found at the scene, with 171 people present at the shootout charged with participation in organised crime.

About 135 motorcycles and 80 cars were also seized from the crime scene.

The subsequent court hearings saw 75 individual suspects request a public defender to work the chargers, with McLennan County having just 29 public defenders available.

Waco Police garnered heavy criticism for the incident, which took place on May 17, 2015, with claims over a lack of solid or accurate information around the arrests.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards conducted a surprise inspection of local jails after 37 complaints of inadequate conditions, but the inspection deemed the jail to have met the minimum standards.

November 10, 2015 saw a Waco grand jury indict 106 people on felony charges of "engaging in organized criminal activity" and it was reported in 2019 that 130 civil rights lawsuits by the bikers against the city of Waco were pending.

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Controversies over the high bail set, with some bikers slapped with million dollar bail requests, led to protests from bikers and the local community.

One protestor at the time, Dot Green, said: "Only an idiot would believe that 176 hardcore criminals all showed up at a restaurant to start a big fight with the cops, and that they all deserve one million dollar bails."

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