Three men affiliated with the Cossacks Motorcycle Club, including two who live in McLennan County, were arrested this week in the shooting death of a fellow club member in Smith County last weekend, police said.
Jeffrey Ryan Griffin, 30, of Hewitt, and Joshua Ray Tibbits, 29, of Waco, were arrested on murder charges Tuesday in the Saturday shooting death of of Brandon Edwards, 33, of Ben Wheeler. A day later, Jose Antonio Valenzuela, 31, of Longview, also was arrested on a murder charge in the shooting.
The three suspects were not among those arrested in the May 2015 shootout between Cossacks and Bandidos bikers in Waco that left nine people dead and 20 injured.
According to police, Edwards was shot while riding his motorcycle and wearing a vest depicting him to be a member of the “1%er Cossacks Motorcycle Gang Rose City Chapter.”
Court documents allege Valenzuela was in charge of ensuring fellow members and prospects follow the “original Cossack way.” The shooting was related to a sexual affair one member was having with another member’s wife, affidavits state.
Surveillance video links the three suspects to the area where Edwards’ body was found, according to court documents. Affidavits state gunshots were heard before a vehicle matching the description of Valenzuela’s truck was seen leaving the area.
According to court records, evidence from 9mm and .40-caliber handguns was found at the scene, indicating there was more than one shooter, affidavits state.
A search of Valenzuela’s home and witness statements identified him as a possible suspect. Additional search warrants for Griffin’s home in the 500 block of Connie Drive and Tibbits’ home in the 3900 block of Charlton Avenue were executed Tuesday night.
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Hewitt police worked together to stop and detain Griffin and Tibbits at separate locations Tuesday, Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin said.
“We have always been aware that there are members of motorcycle clubs and outlaw motorcycle gangs that have resided in the city of Hewitt, and that has never changed, even before Twin Peaks,” Devlin said. “We have no previous history with either one of the individuals that were arrested.”
Valenzuela was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Cisco. Officials believe he fled with his family after Griffin and Tibbits were arrested, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said.
Each suspect was taken to the Smith County Jail and remained there Thursday with bond listed at $2.5 million.
Smith said the case required coordination and cooperation between several agencies, including those involved in arrests, the Longview Police Department and officials at the Texas Anti-Gang Center in Tyler.
“I continue to be amazed at the tenacity, cohesiveness and never-quit attitude of all of these law enforcement entities that are working so well together. No one is concerned with who gets the credit, only that justice is served,” Smith said in a statement. “This is one of the more complex investigations in which we were able to join local law enforcement with the Texas Anti-Gang Unit since its inception.”
A state-funded Texas Anti-Gang Center also is being developed in Waco.
Tribune-Herald staff writer Tommy Witherspoon contributed to this story.
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