A suspect in the deadly shootout featuring two biker gangs in Waco over the weekend is a retired San Antonio Police Department detective.
Martin Lewis served 32 years before he retired in February 2004, said the department in a statement released Tuesday night. No further information was made available.
Lewis is one of 170 people booked on charges connected to the shoot-out in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco during which nine people were killed and 18 injured.
Bond was set at $1 million each for the suspects – believed to be from as many as five different biker gangs – who have all been charged with engaging in organized crime.
The scale of the incident is likely to overwhelm McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna and his team of about a dozen felony prosecutors, predict legal experts.
‘It’s pretty much unchartered territory for anybody,’ defense lawyer Walter Reaves Jr., told USA Today. ‘It’s going to put a strain on the entire court system.’
Engaging in organized crime can bring a sentence of five years to life in prison, but some of those charges could be upgraded to murder, a capital offense. Texas has the death penalty.
Michael Heiskell, a former federal and state prosecutor, said he didn’t expect many trials to emerge from all the resulting charges.
‘The magnitude of the arrests is amazing,’ Heiskell said. ‘It could break the bank in McLennan County.’
The cost of a death penalty case can reach ‘high six figures’ and possibly $1 million, said Heiskell. If defendants can’t pay, then the county has to.
‘I think when the dust settles you may have maybe a few capital charges filed,’ said Heiskell. He also predicts that those will be plea bargained down.
While jailers are working hard to keep rival biker gang members apart in lockup, police in Texas remain on alert after two biker gangs allegedly issued orders to shoot and kill uniformed law enforcement officers.
State and federal authorities distributed memos to local police warning that the Cossacks and Bandidos motorcycle gangs had been told to arm themselves and head to North Texas in the wake of last weekend’s bloody shootout.
An incredible image showing the moment a lone police officer kept at least seven bikers down during the deadly shoot-out in Waco on Sunday was shared by the Mclennan County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.
The photo, pictured below, shows the officer walking past the gang members with his weapon drawn.
‘This photo is the perfect example of what COURAGE looks like,’ the sheriff’s office said. ‘Great job to the Waco Police Dept. and Texas DPS for their quick actions. There is no doubt that lives were saved as a direct result of the officers bravery and commitment to keep this community safe.’
Experts have revealed that confrontation between the Cossacks and the Bandidos – the two main gangs involved in the shooting – had been simmering for months when one biker’s foot was apparently run over by a rival in a restaurant parking lot.
Police said the injury to the biker’s foot is thought to have sparked the shootout when the rivals faced off at a gathering at a so-called ‘breastauraunt’.
And Edward Winterhalder, a former member of the Bandidos who has written 10 books about biker gangs, told Daily Mail Online that the feud began when the Cossacks angered their rivals by putting a Texas patch on a territory-claiming part of their vests known as the ‘bottom rocker’ a year ago.
‘The Cossacks decided they were big enough and strong enough,’ he said. ‘The Bandidos told them to take it off but they didn’t back down.’
The Bandidos, who formed in Texas in 1966, have long dominated the territory over the Cossacks, who formed there three years after their rivals. There are now around 200 Cossacks in the area and 150 Bandidos, but the Bandidos have many more support biker groups than their rivals, he said.
Despite the long-standing tension, Winterhalder said he did not believe either gang had planned Sunday’s clash.
‘It got out of control in the moment,’ he said. ‘I don’t know if we’ll ever know who’s to blame.’
A memo sent to police by a former informant who infiltrated biker clubs had also suggested the bloody battle was over territory.
‘The Bandidos are the biggest motorcycle gang in Texas, and they don’t allow other motorcycle gangs to enter that state,’ the informant, known as ‘Charles Falco’, told CNN. ‘They will allow other motorcycles clubs to exist, but they’re not allowed to wear that state bottom rocker. If they do, they face the onslaught of the Bandidos.
‘The Cossacks decided that they were big enough now to go ahead and wear the Texas bottom rocker, and basically tell the Bandidos that they’re ready for war.’
At a press conference on Tuesday, Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton said that authorities agree the fight was ‘somewhat of a turf war’.
One group of biker members had planned to meet at the restaurant and several gangs were invited, he said. But an additional biker gang that was not invited also showed up, he said.
He added that there was also a disturbance in the parking lot as members arrived, and they are investigating whether someone’s foot was run over by a car. Authorities previously said several witnesses told them that the brawl was sparked by an argument over a restaurant parking space, the Dallas Morning News reported.
But there were also crime scenes inside the restaurant, including in the bar area and the restroom.
The fight left nine gang members dead, 18 seriously injured and 170 arrested.
On Monday, each suspect was charged with engaging in organized crime in connection to a capital murder case, and a judge ordered most to be held on a $1 million bond.
Sheriff Parnell McNamara said each of the suspects is being booked at McLennan County Jail, but that some might be moved to other facilities due to the sheer amount of arrests. He added that jail staff were trying to keep the rival groups apart to avoid further violence.
The brawl left a scene of carnage along the quiet strip on Sunday afternoon.
A physical fight is believed to have broken out in the restroom of the Twin Peaks Bar and Grill around 12.15pm before spilling out into the bar and rapidly escalating into an all-out fight involving chains, clubs, knives and gunfire.
In the parking lot, a SWAT team shot dead at least one biker and surrounded the rest. When the shooting ended, bodies were scattered across the tarmac and cars were riddled with bullet holes. On Monday, officials said that some of the nine killed may have been shot by responding police officers.
The dead were members of the Bandidos or Cossacks gangs. Based on their leathers, it appears the Scimitars, LosPirados, the Veterans, and the Leathernecks were also involved in the clash.
‘In 34 years of law enforcement, this is the worst crime scene, the most violent crime scene that I have been involved in,’ Waco police Sgt W Patrick Swanton said at a Sunday press conference. ‘There were dead everywhere, blood everywhere.’
He also turned on the restaurant, Twin Peaks, for failing to let officers in to monitor the situation.
‘If you have a police department asking for your assistance as a business, you ought to pay attention to that,’ he said on Monday. ‘If you don’t bad things can happen, as evidenced here today.’
On Monday it emerged that Twin Peaks company has revoked the franchise agreement for the Waco restaurant.
‘We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are revoking their franchise immediately,’ the company said.
The company, which has 13 restaurants in Texas, blamed the restaurant’s managers who ‘chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants’.
Swanton added that the restaurant would not be able to serve alcohol for the next week but added he hoped the restaurant would choose to close its doors during that time as a sign of respect to the community.
Swanton said that 18 uniformed SWAT officers and four state agents were stationed outside the restaurant in marked vehicles just before the shooting broke out, a change from the originally reported 10 officers.
More than 100 weapons – including knives, brass knuckles and clubs – were recovered from the scene, police said.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club has around 900 members in 93 chapters across the U.S., making the club one of the two largest outlaw motorcycle groups in America, according to the FBI. The other is the Hell’s Angels.
The club, which the FBI has been labeled a ‘growing criminal threat’, was also named in a federal report as one of the country’s four most dangerous outlaw gangs, alongside the Pagans, Hell’s Angels, and Outlaws.
The group was formed in 1966 by Vietnam war veteran Donald Chambers in San Leon, Texas.
It has since grown to build factions across the world, as far as Germany, Norway and Australia. Its Norwegian branch was one half of the Great Nordic Biker War between 1994 and 1997, warring with Hell’s Angels. At its climax, a missile was fired at a prison holding a Bandidos member.
In the U.S., members have been convicted of smuggling drugs across the Mexican border – an area they are said to specialize in. According to the FBI, Bandidos are major players in the marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine markets.
‘The Bandidos see the Hell’s Angels as too nice,’ journalist Julian Sher, who has written two books about biker gangs, told NBC News. ‘They relish their brutal pedigree. Among the bad guys, they are the baddest of the bad.’
The Cossacks Motorcyle Club, which is based 200 miles away in Callahan County, was formed in 1969, with the motto ‘we take care of our own’. In 2013, Bandidos head Jack Lewis was charged with stabbing two Cossacks outside a restaurant in Abilene, near Callahan County.
They are aligned with another, smaller group, the Scimitars, who were also at the gun battle on Sunday. Photos on Facebook pages belonging to members of the Cossacks in Texas show the two clubs pictured together.
Source: Daily Mail