What Really Happened in Waco Biker Shooting: An Eye-Witness Account

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The Waco Biker shootings have been surrounded by a shroud of mystery. An eyewitness, accounting of the events that took place, gives a true account of exactly who and what happened at Twin Peaks that grisly day:


Richie was the first to die, then Diesel, then Dog.

Whatever else they were in life, the men with the biker nicknames were Cossacks, loud and proud and riders in a Texas motorcycle gang. And that’s what got them killed, shot to death in a brawl with a rival gang in the parking lot of a Texas “breastaurant” that advertised hot waitresses and cold beer.

“I saw the first three of our guys fall, and we started running,” said their brother in arms, another Cossack, who said he was there Sunday when the shooting started at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Nine bikers died, 18 were wounded and 170 landed in jail.

The Cossack, president of a North Texas chapter of the motorcycle gang, asked not to be identified because he is now in hiding and said he fears for his life. He is a rare eye-witness speaking publicly about the Waco massacre, one of the worst eruptions of biker-gang violence in U.S. history.

On Friday, law enforcement officials warned that the violence may not be over. A bulletin from the Texas Department of Public Safety warned that members of the Bandidos, the most notorious biker gang in Texas, may be planning attacks on law enforcement officials, according to CNN, which reviewed the document.

The bulletin warns that Bandidos who serve in the U.S. military may be “supplying the gang with grenades and C4 explosives” to target officials and their families with car bombs, the network reported.

A spokesman for the Waco police, Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, said police had received an increasing number of threats in recent days. “We are taking the necessary precautions,” he said.

U.S. military ties to the Bandidos and other biker gangs were detailed in a U.S. Justice Department report published last year that concluded the gangs were using “active-duty military personnel and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contractors and employees to spread their tentacles across the United States.”

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives study, first reported by the Intercept, concludes that biker gangs have recruited scores of employees of federal, state and local governments, police and firefighters, National Guardsmen and reservists, some of them with government security clearances, to help them “maim and murder” in support of their “insatiable appetite for dominance.”

Since Sunday’s killings, Waco police have offered few conclusions in their complex investigation. But they have said that the violence was touched off when an “uninvited” group, presumed to be the Cossacks, showed up at a meeting of a larger confederation of motorcycle clubs dominated by the Bandidos.

In several interviews in recent days, the Cossack rider offered a different story. He said that the Cossacks were invited to the Twin Peaks patio that day — by a Bandido leader, who offered to make peace in a long-running feud between the two gangs. That invitation was a setup for an ambush, though, according to the Cossack. That’s why the dead included six Cossacks, one Scimitar (an ally of the Cosacks) and only two Bandidos.

The biker’s story could not be independently verified; most of those involved in the shootout are still in jail. But significant parts of his account square with police statements, as well as security camera videos obtained by the Associated Press.

From the outside, biker culture seems incomprehensible, a violent mash of hyper-macho tribalism, a world in which a patch on a leather vest is worth dying for. To law enforcement, the gangs are little more than heavily armed crime syndicates, masquerading as noble rebels while trafficking in drugs and weapons.

Their world has unwritten rules that everybody knows and has predictable consequences for stepping out of line.

So when a biker from the Bandidos, the oldest gang in Texas and one of the largest in the world, ran into a young Cossack in the Twin Peaks parking lot last Sunday, everyone knew what was coming. First words, then fists, then guns. Within seconds, Richie, Diesel and Dog were dead.

The code of the bikers and their gangs is obviously very serious. Look at the way that the gangs melted down and cause so many deaths and arrests. To the bikers themselves, their world makes perfect sense. It has a code of honor. It has hierarchy, discipline, thrills and camaraderie — much like the military, whose veterans birthed the biker movement after World War II and swelled its ranks after Vietnam. Now, a new generation of veterans, home from Iraq and Afghanistan, is feeding the movement.

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