You’ve probably heard that yesterday afternoon, May 17, some 200 members of five biker gangs in Waco, Texas, had what one NBC News article quaintly describes as “a rumble” in a heavily populated mall.
Gang members were at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in the Central Texas Market Place mall for “a meeting” to “settle their differences,” reports ABC News.
Waco police sergeant and spokesman Patrick Swanton didn’t immediately name the gangs, the New York Times reports, because police were not “going to give them the privilege at this point of putting their names out there.”
Photographs of gang members arrested wore leather jackets emblazoned with “Bandidos,” “Cossacks” and “Scimitars.”
The lethal shootout began after rival gang members had a fist fight that exploded into the parking lot. Waco police told NBC News that gang members shot at one another and police. Other alleged gangsters stabbed one another with knives, kicked them, and beat them with clubs, chains and brass knuckles. Nine died, 18 were wounded and about 175 were arrested, mostly for participating in organized crime. No police officers or civilians were harmed. Here’s more from the NBC article titled “Waco Shootout: Biker Brawl at Twin Peaks Leaves Nine Dead”:
“It progressed very rapidly,” Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said. Police — who had been expecting trouble from the gathering — were on the scene when fighting broke out, and they quickly called in reinforcements.
CBS News—which also refers to the deadly melee at a public retail establishment as “a rumble”—reports that “police were on heightened alert” because Twin Peaks hosts a Biker Night on Thursdays that draws rival gangs. According to CBS News, Swanson said police had “attempted to work with the local management of Twin Peaks to cut that back, but to no avail.
After yesterday’s deadly shootout Swanson told The New York Times that “there were so many rounds fired from bad-guy weapons” he was amazed that innocent civilians weren’t hurt.
“In 34 years of law enforcement, this is the worst crime scene — the most violent crime scene — that I have ever been involved in,” he added. “There are dead people still there. There is blood everywhere.”
Despite the horrific official description, photos widely circulated in the aftermath of the gang violence are curiously placid.
For instance, a CBS News photo set shows about 40 unhandcuffed gang members sitting on what appears to be a bench with one officer in front of them; about five unhandcuffed Cossacks standing by a wall; an empty paddy wagon; a row of bikes toppled with a line of unhandcuffed gang members facing police in the background; a police officer walking in the parking lot with his semiautomatic weapon pointed toward the ground; more Cossacks standing around with their hands free; more bikes, this time upright and parked; gang members sitting on the ground surrounded by bottles of water; and an officer in riot gear staring at a burgundy sedan.
As I’m sure you do, I have a few niggling questions about this deadly melee:
- Why are police and media calling this a “meeting” rather than, say, “a partnership to ‘take out’ police officers”?
- If police didn’t project a hologram of James Dean on the mall wall; didn’t find any Sharks, Jets or Outsiders on the scene and didn’t apprehend Danny from “Grease,” why are they calling this murderous scene “a rumble”?
- Why has major media failed to mention the socioeconomic level or race of the bikers?
- Did any of the alleged gangsters make eye contact with police?
- Police were already on the scene because they suspected there would be trouble. Why weren’t any unarmed civilians shot to death?
- Police were prepared for five gangs worth of violence. Why weren’t they all wearing riot gear?
- Do the bikers’ poor education, lack of employment and lack of rec center membership heighten their tendency toward violence?
- Do the bikers lack education, jobs or rec center membership?
- Were Ace Hood, Bobby Smurda, Y.G., Chief Keef, T.I. or 1992-era Snoop Dogg at the shootout in Waco?
- Were the bikers playing the music of Ace Hood, Bobby Smurda, Y.G., Chief Keef, T.I. or 1992-era Snoop Dogg during the deadly fight?
- Was the violence “senseless”?
- Was the violence the result of generations of criminality glorified in bikers’ culture?
- Did the bikers grow up with fathers in their homes?
- Are the bikers married to women and leading households?
- Was anybody “unauthorized” or “illegal”?
- Was anyone a terrorist?
- Was anyone a thug?
- Was anyone not white?
Sources containing language and photos as of 5-18-15 at 12:08 EDT:
5-17-15: ”Waco Shootout: Biker Brawl at Twin Peaks Leaves Nine Dead,” NBC News; ”9 Dead in Waco, Texas, Biker Gang Shooting, Cops Say,” ABC News; ”9 Are Killed in Biker Gang Shootout in Waco,” New York Times. 5-18-15: “Waco police brace for any new biker gang violence,” CBS News; 4-27-15: “Bloods and Crips Team Up to Protest Baltimore’s Cops,” The Daily Beast.