Waco restaurant video shows bikers, others seeking cover 

click to enlarge A Waco police officer and a city employee collect empty water bottles during an investigation at Twin Peaks restaurant, Wednesday, May 20, 2015 in Waco, Texas. A deadly weekend shootout involving rival motorcycle gangs apparently began with a parking dispute and someone running over a gang member's foot, police said Tuesday. - ROD AYDELOTTE/WACO TRIBUNE HERALD, VIA AP
  • Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
  • A Waco police officer and a city employee collect empty water bottles during an investigation at Twin Peaks restaurant, Wednesday, May 20, 2015 in Waco, Texas. A deadly weekend shootout involving rival motorcycle gangs apparently began with a parking dispute and someone running over a gang member's foot, police said Tuesday.

As gunfire broke out in the parking lot of a Texas restaurant, dozens of motorcycle riders ran inside seeking cover and tried to guide others to safety, security video reviewed exclusively by The Associated Press showed Wednesday.

The video suggests that Sunday's deadly gunfight unfolded almost entirely outside the Twin Peaks restaurant, except for one round fired by a biker on the patio who then ran inside.

On the patio, bikers ducked under tables and tried to get inside. At least three people were holding handguns. One biker was seen running with blood on his face, hands and torso.

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 police say the dispute began.

When gunfire begins at 12:24 p.m., 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.

Another camera angle, on the far side of the restaurant from the gunfire, shows patrons who aren't wearing biker gear crawling behind tables toward the kitchen. At least three bikers appear to be gesturing to have the patrons crawl to safety.

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

None of the nine video angles show the parking lot where police say the dispute took place.

Waco police spokesman Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said police have the video but would not discuss its contents.

Authorities on Sunday swept up around 170 bikers who descended on the Waco restaurant. Among those arrested was Theron Rhoten, who had just pulled into the parking lot on his vintage Harley chopper when the bullets started flying.

Rhoten 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."

"He's good to his family," she said. "He doesn't drink. He doesn't do drugs. He doesn't party. He's just got a passion for motorcycles."

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara and Swanton declined to comment Tuesday on whether innocent bikers were arrested in the melee.

Police have said that all those arrested were part of criminal motorcycle gangs, but only two of the nine killed had criminal histories in Texas.

Records show Wayne Lee Campbell was arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2002 in Rowlett in Dallas County and sentenced to probation. In 2007, Campbell was charged with assault in Tarrant County and served 45 days in jail.

In addition, Manuel Isaac Rodriguez was arrested in 2010 and served probation for unlawfully carrying a weapon at a bar in Lewisville.

Police have said the gathering of five biker groups was to resolve a dispute over turf. Some bikers dispute that, saying the meeting was organized to discuss laws protecting motorcycle riders and other subjects.

Katie Rhoten said her husband, a mechanic from Austin, called her from jail and said that he and two other members of Vise Grip motorcycle club ducked and ran for cover as the violence raged around them.

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.

The arrested bikers have all been charged with engaging in organized crime and each is being held on $1 million bonds. It is unclear how long they will remain in custody.

"Unless they try to make some other arrangement to move them through it more quickly, it could be weeks and possibly months" before the jailed bikers have bond-reduction hearings, said William Smith, an attorney who has met with several of the inmates.

The eight members of Theron Rhoten's group, the Vise Grip Club, specialize in building and riding vintage and antique motorcycles, particularly pre-1970 Harley Davidson big twin choppers, according to spokesman Brian Buscemi.

Buscemi said the bimonthly meetings have been happening for 18 years.

"Yes, there was a problem at this scene, and it was absolutely horrific, but there just also happened to be a significant amount of people there who had nothing to do with it," he said.

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