FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Texas officers involved in a deadly shooting outside a biker gathering in Waco had disabled the automatic setting on their rifles, and most of the dozens of shell casings found at the scene were from suspects' guns, police said Friday.
Only three of the 16 officers outside the Twin Peaks restaurant fired their weapons after gunfire erupted following a dispute between two rival biker gangs on May 17, Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman said. The chief said the officers, who were staged outside in anticipation of a large biker meeting, fired 12 times only after being shot at during the melee that left nine people dead and 18 injured.
"We did not fire indiscriminately into the crowd. Our officers were restrained," Stroman said during a news conference Friday in Waco.
Witnesses have said they thought they heard automatic weapons during the shooting. Investigators haven't said who fired the fatal shots.
The shooting began after an apparent confrontation between the Bandidos, the predominant motorcycle club in Texas, and the Cossacks, according to investigators. About 175 bikers were arrested following the shooting, and hundreds of weapons — including 151 firearms — have been recovered.
Stroman said the three officers who fired their weapons shot a total of 12 bullets, though 44 shell casings have been found so far at the scene. Police spokesman Steve Anderson said 32 of those recovered casings came from suspects' weapons, and don't include casings from suspects' revolvers, from which casings must be manually ejected.
"As we get into examining all of the weapons, we may find even more empty shell casings, to show there were more than 32 rounds fired by suspects," Anderson said Friday.
Other weapons recovered include knives, brass knuckles, tomahawks, bats, a machete and a chain. Some weapons were stashed in between bags of flour in the restaurant's kitchen, while others were recovered with metal detectors, found buried under grass, police said.
During his news conference Friday, Stroman defended investigators' decision to arrest the roughly 175 bikers following the shooting, and charge each with engaging in organized crime.
"Those people who went to jail that night, there was probable cause for that arrest," Stroman said.
This story has been corrected to show police now say 16 officers were outside restaurant, not nearly two dozen law enforcement officers.