WACO (CBSDFW.COM) – A deadly shootout at a popular Waco restaurant on Sunday left at least nine people dead and another 18 people injured. The gunfire was exchanged between rival biker gangs at Twin Peaks, and police fear that retaliation could lead to more bloodshed.READ MORE: Suspect In Murder At Dallas Restaurant Arrested In West Texas
Investigators said that at least five rival gangs met for lunch at the restaurant to talk about turf and recruitment. It was then that the fight broke out, quickly turning into a chaotic scene that spilled into the building’s parking lot. Shots were fired between gang members and bodies scattered across the property.
“In my nearly 35 years of law enforcement experience,” said Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton with the Waco Police Department on Sunday, “this is the most violent and most gruesome scene that I have dealt with.”
Those who were killed are believed to be members of the Bandidos and Cossacks gangs.
“It started in the bathroom with, most likely, a push or a shove or somebody looking at somebody wrong. That quickly escalated into a fistfight, which turned into a knife fight, which immediately turned into a gun fight,” Swanton said.
The injuries include both gunshot wounds and stab wounds. Officials stated that all of the hurt individuals were bikers, despite the fact that many innocent people were in the area when the shooting began. It was estimated that close to 200 gang members were at the scene.
“It is amazing that innocent civilians were not injured here,” added Swanton.
Police have responded to this same Twin Peaks location several times over the past two months to break up gang fights.READ MORE: Executive Director of Catholic Charities Says COVID-Stricken Migrants Eating At Whataburger An 'Isolated Case'
Authorities said that they knew about the restaurant meeting and anticipated trouble. That is why several officers were able to reach the scene quickly and help save potential victims. “You had off-duty officers that were here, saw what was going on, immediately armed themselves and went to the aid of their fellow officers,” said Swanton on Monday. “These are officers that ran into gunfire to protect our citizens.”
Some off-duty officers reportedly even prevented suspected gang bikers from leaving the scene.
Crime scene tape now surrounds the restaurant, and there has been a heavy police presence there since authorities got to the scene on Sunday. Officers said early Monday that 192 people have been arrested for engaging in organized crime.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission shut down the restaurant for at least seven days to allow police to conduct a complete investigation. The TABC is also conducting their own independent investigation.
Later on Monday morning, the Twin Peaks corporate office, said that they are revoking the franchise agreement for the Waco location, effectively immediately.
Investigators are using 3D imaging and looking for weapons in bushes and cars — several of which are now riddled with bullet holes.
Authorities are also concerned that other gang members could start more trouble this week after what happened at the restaurant on Sunday. The Waco Police Department said, if that does become a problem, that they are ready and have a plan in place to prevent more bloodshed, including attacks against their own officers.
“Our citizens are safe,” Swanton continued early Monday morning. “I will tell you that we have had threats against law enforcement officers throughout the night from various biker groups. We are very aware that some of them have come into our city, and we have a contingency plan to deal with those individuals as they try to cause trouble here.”MORE NEWS: Suspects Sought In Murder Of 60-Year-Old Mother Inside Garland Home
Parts of downtown Waco have been on lockdown since Sunday, and officers have been stopping bikers and questioning them around the Waco area. “We have been getting reports throughout the day that bikers from out of state are headed this way,” added Swanton. “We would encourage them not to, because we have plenty of space in our county jail to put them there.”