US & Canada

Texas bikers in deadly shoot-out at Waco restaurant

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Media captionAlastair Leithead reports: ''The staff were terrified''

Police in the US state of Texas say nine people have been killed and at least 100 arrested after a shoot-out between rival biker gangs in Waco.

The incident happened at the Twin Peaks Sports Bar and Grill in a shopping area called the Central Texas Market Place.

Police said eight had died at the scene and a ninth in hospital - all were bikers. At least 18 others were hurt.

One witness quoted by the Waco Tribune-Herald said the car park of the restaurant resembled "a war zone".

"There were maybe 30 guns being fired in the parking lot, maybe 100 rounds," Michelle Logan said.

Diners at the Twin Peaks cafe said they and the staff had locked themselves in a freezer room for safety before being escorted off the premises by armed police.

'Dangerous and hostile'

Waco police said the shooting happened shortly after midday when rival gangs got into a fight, apparently over parking space near the restaurant. Up to five gangs were involved.

Police spokesman Sgt W Patrick Swanton said the fight started with punches and then escalated to chains, clubs, knives and finally firearms.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police sealed off the area around the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco
Image copyright AP
Image caption Police stood guard near a group of bikers in the car park of the restaurant

"This is probably one of the most gruesome crime scenes I've ever seen in my 34 years of law enforcement,'' he said.

Police knew the meeting was going on, and officers moved in as soon as the shooting started.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara later said all nine who were killed were members of the Bandidos or Cossacks gangs, according to the Associated Press news agency.

"These are very dangerous hostile biker gangs," Sgt Swanton said. "A lot of innocent people could have been injured today."

One witness said he and his family had just finished their lunch and walked into the car park when they heard gunshots.

"We crouched down in front of our pick-up truck because that was the only cover we had," the witness - who asked not to be named - was quoted as saying.

Sgt Swanton said there were concerns that groups involved in the shooting may have moved to other locations in and around Waco.

Several nearby roads were closed, and police asked residents to avoid the area until an all-clear was issued.

Waco police said no officers had been injured in the shooting.