Texas Turf War Spurred Waco Biker Shootout, Says Expert

05/21/2015 01:21 pm ET | Updated May 21, 2015

The five motorcycle clubs involved in last weekend's deadly shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, had gathered to hash out differences. But tensions over turf between two rival gangs, the Cossacks and the Bandidos, derailed the talks and led to violence, an expert told The Huffington Post.

Although the gangs have been rivals since they formed in Texas in the 1960s, the immediate feud that led to Sunday's gunfight can be traced back to a stabbing two years ago, according to James F. Quinn, a University of North Texas sociologist who has studied biker gangs.

"Back in 2013 there was a stabbing involving the Bandidos and a couple of Cossacks in West Texas," Quinn told HuffPost Live on Wednesday. "So there's been bad blood between these clubs for quite a while."

The situation was further exacerbated when the Cossacks and the Scimitars (a club the Cossacks are set to absorb) rode into the meeting wearing vest patches that made claims on the Bandidos' turf.

"The Scimitars and the Cossacks had recently started wearing bottom rockers," said Quinn, referring to a part of the vest patches that bikers often sport. "In this subculture, wearing a bottom rocker is a territorial claim. You've got the Cossacks wearing a bottom rocker that says 'Texas'... and the Scimitars wearing a bottom rocker that says 'McLennan County.'"

"The Bandidos were highly offended by that, because the Bandidos claim Texas," he added.

To make matters worse, Quinn said that the Cossacks had reportedly been in talks to get "patched over" by the Bandidos' archrivals, the Hells Angels. If the Cossacks became part of the Hells Angels, he said, it would have presented a serious threat to the Bandidos.

Quinn said things escalated after a biker's foot got run over in the Twin Peaks parking lot, which led to a confrontation in the establishment's restroom. Despite the presence of uniformed police in the vicinity, the meetup exploded into violence. Witnesses said bikers began brawling inside the restaurant, then spilled outside.

"The guns came out and things hit the fan," Quinn said.

At one point, as many as 30 gang members were shooting at one another in the parking lot, according to The Washington Post. Nine bikers were killed in the shootout. Police made 170 arrests.

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