It’s been more than two years since one of the deadliest criminal shootouts in American history. But the bloody clash involving motorcyclists at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco continues to be shrouded by a veil of secrecy. Criminal trials are scheduled to start next week, and thanks to a trove of leaked documents obtained by the Texas Standard, we now gain a fascinating insight into the lethal fray.
What information authorities have released to the public seems sparse: a scuffle in a parking lot led to a gunfight. Police, already on the scene, fired into the fray, leaving nine dead and 18 wounded. Members of the biker gang known as the Bandidos were singled out as the primary culprits. Mass arrests wrangled 177 people who were held on extraordinarily high $1 million bonds, with many contending they were merely bystanders that day.
Law enforcement has stayed largely silent on the matter, while those accused of wrongdoing have launched a series of civil lawsuits targeting everyone from the police to Baylor University. What previously undisclosed documents show is that police had reason to believe violence would occur, but failed to intervene, that Twin Peaks management didn’t take proper precautions to protect customers and that one state law enforcement agency was kept completely in the dark.
The “potential for violence” was “very high”
On May 1, 2015, nearly two weeks before the shootings, Waco Police Department gang detective Jeff Rogers sent an email through the department ranks, warning about the potential for violence at an upcoming gathering of bikers. A source had tipped Rogers off that a grassroots coalition of biker groups, known as the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, was going to hold a gathering at Waco’s Twin Peaks on May 17. Rogers’ email said the event could possibly draw 300 bikers, many of them associated with the Bandidos and their support clubs.