Police in Texas are on alert after two biker gangs involved in a deadly shootout in Waco over the weekend allegedly issued orders to shoot and kill uniformed law enforcement officers.
State and federal authorities distributed memos to local police warning that the Cossacks and Bandidos motorcycle gangs had been told to arm themselves and head to North Texas in the wake of last weekend's bloody shootout. Nine people were killed and 18 injured in the gun fight, which erupted at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on Sunday.
Police made more than 170 arrests and confiscated guns and other weapons after the fight, which is believed to have involved up to five different biker gangs.
Law enforcement officers across Texas received memos Monday warning of possible retaliation. A bulletin posted by the Del Rio Sector Border Patrol said members of the Cossacks and Bandidos biker gangs had been instructed to "shoot and kill law uniformed law enforcement officers," according to a CBS affiliate that covers the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Other law enforcement memos obtained by the station warned of "escalating violence" and said that members of the rival gangs, both of which originated in Texas in the 1960s, had been ordered to arm themselves and head to North Texas.
A warning distributed by the Texas Department of Public Safety said the bikers were told to ignore orders from police they encountered on the way.
Waco police told CNN that they had known the Twin Peaks restaurant was a hotspot for bikers, and that uniformed officers regularly patrolled the area closely in the months leading up to the deadly melee. But police presence wasn't enough to dissuade the bikers from violence.
"We wanted our presence to be known," Waco Police Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton told CNN Wednesday. "They knew we were seconds away and going to respond. That mattered not to them ... We would encourage biker groups to stand down. There's been enough bloodshed."
In a news briefing Tuesday, Swanton noted that gangs "toned down" their threats for reprisal, although they remain a worry for law enforcement, according to Reuters.
According to The New York Times, the biker meet-up over the weekend was originally "intended to discuss bikers’ rights and how to work on issues of mutual concern," but instead collapsed into violence, with a long-standing feud between the Bandidos and the Cossacks as the backdrop.
If convicted, the gang members accused in the shooting could face the death penalty.