Criminal Justice

Nearly 200 charged after 9 die in Texas biker brawl; courthouse, other buildings under heavy guard

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Nearly 200 people have been arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime after a fight between rival motorcycle gang members at a Texas restaurant on Sunday. At least nine people were killed, and as many as 18 more were hospitalized.

The courthouse, jail, hospital and a shopping center near the Waco, Texas, restaurant are under heavy guard, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Texas Rangers, state troopers and Department of Public Safety officers are assisting local police as the investigation continues. Charges against some of those being held at the McLennan County jail could be upgraded to include capital murder once the situation is sorted out by authorities.

Both the Twin Peaks restaurant, where members of as many as five motorcycle gangs fought, and the nearby Interstate 35 freeway exit were closed Monday. Dozens of motorcycles remained parked at the restaurant. It could remain closed for a week, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“There was enough of a reason to believe violence could occur there,” said Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton of the Waco police. “That is a big deal for us knowing we will not have to worry about a development occurring here for at least seven days.”

He said police had expected trouble as members of at least three biker gangs gathered. Swanton said the fact that officers were already on the scene before the fight broke out saved others from being killed, CNN reports.

It appears at this point that a fight between a small number of bikers, using their fists and feet, started around noon Sunday in a restaurant restroom, the Associated Press reports. That sparked a larger gun and knife battle which spilled out into the Twin Peaks parking lot.

Swanson said at least 12 Waco police officers and a number of state troopers were at Twin Peaks before the fighting began.

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