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May 21, 2015 2:29 AM

Bikers, others flee gunfire in Waco restaurant video

The Associated Press

WACO, Texas (AP) When gunfire erupted in the parking lot of a Texas restaurant, most of the leather-clad motorcycle riders watching the confrontation from the patio or inside immediately ran away from the shooting. A few tried to direct people to safety, crawling on all fours heading for cover.

One biker ran away with blood on his face, hands and torso. A woman could be heard screaming, "Oh my God!" Others yelled, "Get down!"

Restaurant security video reviewed exclusively by The Associated Press showed only one of the dozens of bikers recorded was seen firing a gun from the patio of the Twin Peaks restaurant where nine people were killed.

None of the nine video angles shows the parking lot.

Many of the bikers on tape are likely to have been arrested by Waco police, who rounded up about 170 people, charged them with felony engaging in organized criminal activity and set their bonds at $1 million.

Police spokesman Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton declined to comment about the video Wednesday. Swanton has said the people arrested were members of biker gangs with criminal elements that have been monitored by local authorities for months.

"They were not here to drink and eat barbecue," Swanton said earlier this week. "They came here with violence in mind."

The video shows bikers on the restaurant patio Sunday, ducking under tables and trying to get inside. At least three people can be seen holding handguns.

Before the shooting, the inside of the restaurant appears to be mostly empty. Bikers and other patrons can be seen walking to the windows facing the parking lot, where most of the shooting happened, when the confrontation was apparently underway.

When gunshots start at 12:24 p.m. on the video, most bikers, other patrons and staff immediately run away from the windows and into the restaurant's interior.

One camera angle shows bikers running into the men's bathroom. When there's no space left in the bathroom, they dash toward the kitchen.

The AP was shown the video Wednesday by representatives of the Twin Peaks franchise, who have said the fighting began outside the restaurant, not inside as police have said. The franchise has not released the video publicly, citing the ongoing investigation.

Video footage shows police with assault rifles entering the door about two minutes after the shooting begins. As two officers enter, bikers can be seen lying on the floor with their hands spread.

Before the shooting, at least 20 members of the Cossacks biker gang can be seen on the patio. Members of the Scimitars, Boozefighters and Leathernecks can also be seen on the tape. While no Bandidos are immediately visible, police and one member of that biker gang have said some of their members were at the event.

Among those arrested was Theron Rhoten, who showed up at the Twin Peaks restaurant for a regional motorcycle club meeting. But, according to his wife, he soon found himself in the middle of a deadly shootout involving scores of other bikers.

Katie Rhoten said her husband ran for cover and was later arrested, along with motorcycle-riding friends and other "nonviolent, noncriminal people."

Police have said that all those arrested were part of criminal motorcycle gangs, but only five of the nine people killed had criminal histories in Texas, based on court records and a search of their names in a database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it is not clear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.


Merchant and Warren reported from Dallas. Associated Press National Writer Allen G. Breed contributed to this report.


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