WASHINGTON – Nine people have been killed and several wounded after a shootout between rival biker groups in Waco, Texas, with more gangs threatening to descend on the town after the violence, local media reported.
Fighting broke out on Sunday in a restaurant parking lot between three rival groups, with some members using clubs and knives before pulling guns, according to Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton, speaking to CBS affiliate KWTX.
Local news outlets reported that as many as 18 people were wounded, mostly from gunshot and stab wounds, and Swanton told reports that more than 100 weapons were collected from the scene.
Waco police said on Facebook that no officers were injured at the deadly Twin Peaks restaurant fight, without immediately providing further details.
"Multiple injuries to include multiple fatalities at Twin Peak Shooting. Officers were on scene when shooting started. No officers have been injured," the Waco Police Department posted on Facebook.
The fighting apparently started inside the restaurant before the gang members moved to the parking lot in the Central Texas Market shopping complex where the shooting broke out around noon (1700 GMT).
Police had been dispatched to the scene before guns were pulled, and several police officers were shot at, according to KWTX. The dust-up apparently started at a fist fight, before the suspects pulled knives, chains and then guns, the television network said.
The gangs were known to frequent the restaurant, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald, and Swanton told the newspaper the restaurant's management had not been cooperative with police until Sunday.
'Do not come to this area'
Swanton said some witnesses had been moved to a secure location after officials reported evidence that more biker gang members from across the state of Texas were heading to Waco, according to the newspaper.
The television station reported that the area was secured by police after the incident, and police warned residents to stay away as armed suspects continued to arrive on scene.
"We are closing the entire Central Texas Marketplace if you are here leave now. For safety reasons we again assert do not come to this area!" Waco police said on Facebook.
"Officers are continuing to arrest individuals coming to the scene with weapons. This is not the time to sight see as we are dealing with very dangerous individuals," it posted.
Waco is located in central Texas and has a population of about 129,000 people.
The city is best known for a deadly confrontation in 1993 between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and heavily armed members of the Branch Davidian religious group, who torched the building they were holed up in.
The 51-day standoff between the sect members and the FBI ended when the Davidians set their building on fire, killing more than 80 people, including children. — AFP