Waco Police Department’s Sergeant Patrick Swanton said “This was Anytown, USA,” in response to a question from media about why this happened in this city. He said there is a violent element out there and this type of violence could erupt anywhere, especially if a business ignores requests from police. Swanton revised the number of individuals arrested downward to 170 from the previously reported 192 during his Monday midday press conference.
As the violence broke out on Sunday, there were eighteen Waco police officers and four Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers on hand. Those included an assistant chief, sergeants, tactical officers and one rookie patrolman. “Their actions saved our citizens’ lives,” he reiterated proudly. He explained that all of the officers were in uniform and were in marked police vehicles. “We were extremely visible.”
“They could have cared less that we were here,” Swanton explained about the bikers’ attitude about the heavy police presence. “They set about killing each other and then turned on us when we responded.”
Swanton explained that police responded within seconds of the outbreak of violence. In addition to the uniformed officers on scene, Swanton said off-duty officers who happened to be shopping in the strip center also responded “even though they did not have proper protective equipment.” He said every law enforcement agency present in the county responded to the scene. That included the FBI and ATF, he said.
“Our officers quickly gained control of the scene,” Swanton stated. He said they quickly “proned out” the suspects or took them into temporary custody.
He explained that 170 people were taken to the Convention Center for processing and questioning as well as for security purposes. They have been or are being processed into the McLennan County Jail on charges of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity in regards to Capital Murder. He said the District Attorney’s Office would provide additional information about specific charges at a later date.
Swanton once again admonished the management of the Twin Peaks restaurant where the shooting took place. “They have some answering to do,” he said, “not only to you [the news media], but to our community.” He reiterated that the police have been attempting to get management to deal with the situation involving what he described as organized criminal biker gangs for at least two months.
He said they have made arrests of criminal bikers at this location over the past couple of months.
Swanton advised the media that forensics teams would be processing large amounts of evidence throughout the day. He said that later today, more than 100 motorcycles and some vehicles related to the gang members would be towed to a different location.
Because of the security threats that continue, SWAT officers remain on scene to protect the media and the law enforcement investigators. He said they have been informed that motorcycle gangs have been given the “green light” to take retaliatory action against the police. He said that SWAT members remain on the roof of the Twin Peaks and on the neighboring highway overpass so “they could not get the high ground on us.”
Sunday afternoon, Waco PD received intelligence information that multiple biker gangs were headed towards Waco on Interstate 35 and Highway 6. Many of those bikers have been seen in and around the Waco area. Today, that traffic appears to be reduced, he said.
Officers of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and the District Attorney’s Office have been on scene yesterday and today, he advised. The TABC has issued an order suspending the liquor license of Twin Peaks for at least seven days. Swanton said that once the crime scene is released, the restaurant could legally re-open to sell food and non-alcoholic beverages. He said he hoped that Twin Peaks management would show concern for the community and respect for those killed by remaining closed for an extended period of time. He said there is still danger of retaliation against other bikers and law enforcement.
The shooting actually began inside the establishment, Swanton stated. He said some people were shot inside but then went outside to attempt to escape before they died outdoors. Three bodies were found in the parking lot, some were found just outside the front door and others were found around the back of the restaurant. One of the deceased bikers was apparently moved from inside the restaurant by someone Swanton said might have been dragging the person to safety.
Five separate gangs were allegedly involved in the violence, Swanton stated. He said he would not give them any honor or recognition by mentioning their names. He said all of the deceased came from two of the five gangs.
Swanton praised the media for their assistance in getting the word out about the very dangerous situation that occurred on Sunday. He praised the use of social media to help spread the word.
Swanton was asked why the police had such a visible presence on this particular Sunday when the issue had been underway for two months. “We had intel suggesting an even worse element would be present yesterday,” he explained. “They came with violence in mind, as indicated by the weapons we found.” He said they found brass knuckles, clubs, chains, knives and handguns. “We knew the opportunity for violence was very high.”
The eighteen people who were injured and sent to the hospital had either gunshot or knife wounds, or both. Swanton said some also had blunt force trauma injuries.
As for the lack of cooperation from Twin Peaks management, Swanton said it “absolutely had some bearing on what happened here yesterday.”