Preliminary autopsy results returned Tuesday, revealing the names and causes of death for each of the nine men killed in Sunday’s shootout at Twin Peaks that injured another 18 and resulted in the arrests of more than 170 people.
Only one of the slain was from Waco, a man whose Facebook page identified him as a regional road captain for the Cossacks Motorcycle Club. He was identified as Daniel Raymond Boyett, 44, who died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the preliminary autopsy report released Tuesday. His Facebook page, deleted Tuesday afternoon, showed numerous photos of him in his Cossacks gear.
Authorities say the shootout Sunday stemmed from a feud between the Cossacks and the dominant Texas motorcycle club, the Bandidos, and all the dead were from those two groups. Autopsy records show that all died of gunshot wounds. Guns were among the more than 100 weapons recovered at the scene, which also included knives, chains and brass knuckles.
Waco police Tuesday gave a more detailed account of how they think the noon-hour melee developed, as 170-plus suspects remained jailed on organized criminal activity charges. They said five “gangs” were involved, though they continue to decline to name all of them.
Police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton publicly called for a “truce” among the warring factions, adding that “there has been enough tragedy and bloodshed in Waco, Texas.”
Swanton said an uninvited group appeared for a meeting of regional biker organizations, and fighting apparently began when a biker’s foot was run over in the parking lot.
He added that police have had trouble piecing together the story in light of deception on the part of witnesses and suspects.
Eyewitnesses say the uninvited group was the Cossacks, who were not supposed be part of the quarterly meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents that was scheduled for 1 p.m. on the restaurant’s patio.
Swanton said fighting continued inside the restaurant, then spilled back into the parking lot, where the gunbattle erupted. Officials also found a bloody scene in a restaurant bathroom. Three or four of the 18 police officers stationed in a nearby parking lot fired shots, though Swanton said it is too early to know whether any of those shots killed bikers.
Autopsy reports and police did not indicate where those killed were from, but an online public records database showed that only Boyett was from Waco. Others were Richard Vincent Kirschner, 47, of Wylie; Jacob Lee Rhyne, 39, of Ranger; Wayne Lee Campbell, 43, of Fort Worth; Charles Wayne Russell, 46, of Tyler; Jesus Delgado Rodriguez, 65, of New Braunfels; Richard Matthew Jordan II, 31, of Pasadena; Manuel Issac Rodriguez, 40, of Allen; and Matthew Mark Smith, 27, of Keller.
Of the 18 injured in the melee, seven remained hospitalized Tuesday, and Swanton said all of those people were stable and most were improving. At least one of the 11 who were released from hospitals has been arrested, and police said more charges likely will be filed.
Tensions between the Cossacks and the Bandidos have been simmering for months, according to reports from the FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety. A May 1 DPS bulletin suggested that the tension could stem from the Cossacks refusing to pay dues to the Bandidos, who are considered the dominant motorcycle club in Texas.
The Cossacks, a relatively small group, have angered Bandidos by displaying a “Texas” rocker, or patch, on their jackets, which is seen as a sign of disrespect. In March, a group of about 10 Cossacks pulled over a Bandido on Interstate 35 near Waco and attacked him with “chains, batons and metal pipes before stealing his motorcycle,” according to media reports on the bulletin.
The same day, a group of Bandidos attacked a Cossack at a truck stop in Palo Pinto County, hitting him in the head with a hammer and ripping the Texas rocker patch from his jacket. In April, the FBI received information that the Bandidos were considering “war” against the Cossacks.
Steve Cochran, a national bikers’ rights advocate from Waco who witnessed the melee, blamed the incident entirely on the Cossacks. Cochran, who is a founder of the Waco chapter of the Sons of the South, is an official with the U.S. Defenders Task Force, a legislative group affiliated with the Texas Confederacy of Clubs and Independents.
He arrived at Twin Peaks on Sunday to set up a sound system for the COC&I meeting, only to find that the violence already had started.
Bandidos members were to be part of the meeting, which was to focus on legislative issues common to all bikers, Cochran said. He said police gave no indication to him or other COC&I members that their lives might be in danger.
“These meetings have gone on for 20 years, and we’ve gone all these years without a single incident until Sunday,” he said.
Cochran said the Cossacks have never been part of the COC&I organization but about 60 showed up on their bikes.
“They rode en masse to that meeting for the sole purpose of creating some kind of trouble,” he said. “Their intentions were not saintly. . . . If they had not showed up there, we wouldn’t be discussing this now.”
Cochran said in the past nine months or so, Cossacks have been harassing other motorcycle clubs.
“They have been rolling around trying to intimidate people and tell people they own this town, and that we’re not allowed to ride here,” he said.
He said there are no Bandidos in Waco, but he disputed police characterizations of the group as a criminal gang that demands tribute from other motorcycle clubs.
“I have come to know many of them personally, and I have never in my experience known them to be anything but loyal, hardworking people on behalf of motorcycle rights,” he said.
He also said police have mischaracterized the planned COC&I meeting as a “meeting of gangsters trying to settle their differences.” He said the meetings begin with a pledge of allegiance and a chaplain’s prayer, followed by discussions and votes on a legislative agenda. He said the meeting has been publicly announced online for two months.
“Any fifth-grader with a smartphone could have figured that out,” he said.
Police gave warning Sunday that more biker gang members were heading to Waco, which Swanton said did happen. But no other incidents or arrests unrelated to Sunday’s shooting occurred, he said.
“That has toned down in the last 24 hours,” he said.
The officers involved in Sunday’s shooting remained at work Tuesday, including 18 Waco officers and four DPS troopers, in part because of that perceived threat.
While it is traditional procedure to remove from duty officers involved in shootings, Swanton said, “We absolutely needed their services because of the potential for violence and threat.
“We know with gangs, this most likely is not over. Will it happen in Waco? Who knows.”
It is also commonplace with officer-involved shootings to pull in another agency to conduct the investigation, but Swanton said that won’t happen with Sunday’s case.
“We have the top shooting investigator in our area. He’s highly trained in officer-involved shootings,” Swanton said, adding that two parallel investigations will take place in an effort to maintain the integrity of those findings.
He said some of that also will be assisted by the Texas Rangers, along with many other state and federal agencies.
Swanton said he expects the responsibilities of the officers involved in Sunday’s shootout to be lessened over the coming days.
“It’s a very difficult decision to pull the trigger and end a life,” Swanton said. “Obviously, their well-being is a major concern.”
On Tuesday, police continued the seizure and transport of 135 motorcycles and 80 cars and pickup trucks under heavy security. Police think the vehicles contain evidence that relates to the investigation, in addition to being riddled with bullet holes and blood spatter. Officials have found more weapons in those vehicles, he said. That process should be finished Wednesday morning, he said.
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