Two weeks after the dust has settled after a shooting incident outside a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, a look back at how the story was originally reported by the police and local media shows a number of inconsistencies with facts we have since learned.
With both lawsuits and protests starting over the fate of the estimated 170 people who were arrested on vague charges and facing a $1,000,000 bond that Breitbart Texas has reported is outrageously high, it is worth examining what was originally reported and what we know now.
The violent incident began on Sunday afternoon on May 17th. When local Waco TV station KXXV News Channel 25 introduced the first press conference by Waco Police Public Information Officer Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, the anchors made a number of claims.
“All the dead are members of a biker gang”
As Breitbart Texas has reported, at least one of those killed has no known criminal record or gang ties: Jesus “Jesse” Rodriguez, a 65 year-old decorated Vietnam vet and father of 7 who was known to fellow bikers as “Mohawk,” and often did charity rides with his wife, known as “Betty Boop.”
It has since been reported that five of the 9 dead bikers had criminal records in Texas.
Additionally, the Dallas Morning News reported on May 19th that they had found prior criminal records for only about 60 of the 174 people arrested, mostly for offense like speeding and possession of marijuana. The AP’s search turned up similar results.
Waco Police Sgt. Swanton continued to state that all those killed were members of biker gangs and continued to defend the arrests, stating on the Thursday after the shooting, “If you were innocent, or we thought you were innocent, you were one of those that did not get arrested.”
”Police are concerned about retaliation and payback.”
This was stated by the police a number of times and used as a rationale to shut down businesses, including a local Harley Dealership that was shut down for several days.
Thus far, there have been no reports of retaliation.
“People were concerned that a large number of bikers were going to be gathering there.”
This ominous sounding statement only tells half the story.
It is true that a large number of bikers were going to be gathering at Twin Peaks, but the purpose was for a regularly scheduled political meeting of a group called the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents (CoC&I) .
None of the original reporting mentioned who the CoC&I is, or that in the 20 year history of the group across the state there was no history of violence.
“They say they have been working with the management at Twin Peaks but not getting much cooperation for allowing these violent groups to come in and take part at their restaurant.”
Waco authorities immediately began blaming Twin Peaks for the violence, but questions have been raised about what the police themselves knew and when they knew it.
Given the lack of criminal records for most of those attending and the political nature of CoC&I meetings, it is not at all obvious that the restaurant was “allowing these violent groups to come in,” but it’s 100% clear that police were right to be concerned that something might happen that Sunday.
There was a heavily armed police presence of about 18 officers in the parking lot prior to whatever sparked the shooting incident. The police presence included SWAT officers and police armed with weapons like M-16s.
This large show of force has led to speculation that police were tipped in advance that something was expected to go down that Sunday. The police had issued some sort of warning to both the restaurant’s franchise and the Twin Peaks corporate office 72 hours before Sunday’s event, but the exact nature of that warning has not been detailed yet.
If the police had an informant that tipped them to trouble, they have not confirmed or denied this.
“The fight apparently started inside the restaurant, then moved outside…”
Video from the restaurant shows the opposite: that a squabble of some kind began outside the restaurant and then people ran inside for cover.
As the New York Daily News reported:
Most of the leather-clad patrons ran away from the shooting or ducked under tables to dodge violence, video showed. Some bikers tried to direct other people to safety.
One camera angle showed people piling into the men’s bathroom for cover. When there was no more room left, the bikers dashed toward the kitchen.
The video, which shows just the inside of the restaurant, reportedly only shows one person firing a gun.
The restaurant video was originally given to the Waco police, who have not released or discussed it but continued to repeat the ‘fight started inside’ story. The Waco P.D. has not released any video from the police vehicle dash-cams, either.
What Was Left Of Original Reporting
One notable omission: no mention is made that the police had shot anyone. The initial reports made it sound as though all the deaths and injuries were caused by the bikers themselves.
Since then, the Waco P.D. has admitted that officers were involved in the shooting. Despite autopsies being completed, the police have not clarified how many of the dead were killed by police.
Follow Lee Stranahan on Twitter at @Stranahan.