CRIME

Hundreds Of Weapons Found At Scene Of Texas Biker Gang Battle (UPDATE)

05/20/2015 01:00 pm ET | Updated May 20, 2016

(Updates with statement from restaurant, paragraphs 10-11)

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas, May 20 (Reuters) - About 120 guns and 160 knives were recovered from the scene of a deadly Sunday battle between rival motorcycle gangs in the Texas city of Waco that left nine people dead, police said on Wednesday as they sharply dropped their tally of weapons found.

Gang members hid weapons in sacks of flour and bags of chips at the Twin Peaks restaurant, where they attacked each other in a fight that was likely set off by a smoldering turf battle, Waco Police said.

A spokesman earlier in the day said about 1,000 weapons had been recovered, but police in a later statement said that number was overestimated and the actual figure was about 320.

Those weapons included firearms, knives, clubs, brass knuckles and chains with padlocks attached to them, Waco Police said in a Facebook post.

Waco Police Sergeant Patrick Swanton told cable channel CNN: "These were vicious gang members that were in our city Sunday."

The two main adversaries were motorcycle gangs the Bandidos, seen as the long-standing dominant gang in Texas and called a criminal organization by the U.S. Justice Department, and the Cossacks, which have been challenging them for power in the state, according to experts on the gangs.

The Cossacks have canceled a rally planned for this weekend in a rural area west of Fort Worth after the local sheriff asked them to call it off given what happened in Waco, the sheriff said.

"Tensions are still running high between those two bike gangs," Palo Pinto Sheriff Ira Mercer said, adding it was the prudent thing to do.

The Central Texas Marketplace Shopping Center, with about 50 stores and restaurants located along a major highway, reopened on Wednesday after being shut following the brawl, police said.

In a statement, the Twin Peaks Waco franchisee said on Wednesday the restaurant's security camera footage from that day showed people sought safety inside the business and that no violence started inside the restaurant.

It said the footage had been handed to law enforcement.

Police have taken into custody 170 people, who are being held on bail of $1 million each on charges of involvement in organized crime relating to capital murder.

The nine killed ranged in age from 27 to 65 and a preliminary autopsy report indicated they all died from gunshot wounds, according to records made available by the McLennan County Justice of the Peace.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Bill Trott, Peter Cooney and Eric Beech)

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