What Started The Waco Biker Shooting? Leading Theory Includes A Parking Spot, Investigators Say

More than 150 bikers were charged on Monday in connection with the bloody biker brawl that turned into a shooting massacre outside a Waco, Texas, restaurant. The motivation behind the shooting, which left nine people dead, nearly two dozen more injured, and involved a firefight with local police officers, is still unknown, though a bizarre theory has emerged. According to The Dallas Morning News, a parking spot may have triggered the Twin Peaks shootout, sparking an argument between members of two rival bike gangs that ultimately led to the bloody crimes.

It sounds ridiculous — pulling out guns to solve a tiny dispute —but the Morning News reported local police are currently investigating the parking-spot theory. “It’s like the Wild West," McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told the newspaper. “These guys become very violent to each other very quickly over nothing.”

Whether or not the shootout is linked to a parking lot remains to be seen, but both local law enforcement and bike-gang experts have said the two gangs involved in the brawl, the Cossacks and the Bandidos, have been warring over their "turf" for some time now. Steve Cook, a police detective who runs the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, told The Wall Street Journal that the turf rivalry began over something even smaller than a parking spot — a patch bearing the word "Texas." The Bandidos had claimed the right to wear that patch, Cook said, so when Cossack members began sewing them onto their leather jackets, things turned ugly.

"The fact that the Cossacks would put on a bottom rocker with the state of Texas is basically saying, ‘We don’t respect you, and we won’t answer to you,’ ” Mr. Cook said. “It was a powder keg.”

“The Bandidos have denied them permission to use it, saying ‘We own Texas. We wear the bottom rocker,’ ” former federal agent Jay Dobyns added to The Wall Street Journal. “And the Cossacks say, ‘No one is telling us how to format our colors.’ ”

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So, which is it? Parking spot, "Texas" patches, vague territorial boundaries? Investigators don't know for sure what cause the two groups to turn the Twin Peaks restaurant into a bloody scene of chaos and murder. Police, however, do know that tensions between the two rival gangs have escalated in recent months, and state law-enforcement officials have been closely monitoring the two groups.

Meanwhile, the Twin Peaks corporate office released a statement on Monday, apologizing for the Waco restaurant's management. Police said managers of the Waco franchise failed to close the restaurant after they were sent a warning about the upcoming meeting between the Cossacks and Bandidos at the popular sports bar:

We are in the people business and the safety of the employees and guests in our restaurants is priority one. Unfortunately the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco 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. We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are immediately revoking their franchise agreement. Our sympathies continue to be with the families of those who died and are very thankful no employees, guests, police officers or bystanders were hurt or injured.

However, the Twin Peaks Waco franchise responded with a statement of its own on Monday, denying those claims:

It is important to clarify that, to the best of our knowledge, law enforcement officials did not ask either the Waco restaurant operator (with whom they spoke several times) or the Twin Peaks franchisor to cancel the patio reservation that was made on Sunday. Based on the information to date, we also believe that the violence began outside in the area of the parking lot, and not inside our restaurant or on our patio, as has been widely reported.

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