WACO, Texas (Reuters) - The local Harley Davidson dealership was closed, motorcycle riders were asked to stay off the roads and police snipers took to rooftops to watch Waco streets after a deadly gangland shooting caused many to cast a colder eye on bikers.
Police did not say how long the request would last.
Riders asked the public to take a breath, relax and realize that criminality is the rare exception for members of motorcycle clubs.
Waco Police said they have been threatened by motorcycle gangs after a Sunday shoot out between rivals at a Twin Peaks restaurant that left nine dead and 18 injured. They asked bikers to stay off the streets because it was difficult to distinguish between law-abiding riders and those bent on criminality.
Members and supporters of the riding community took to social media in defense of motorcycle clubs, mentioning charity work by organizations such as Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A), which attend court appearances in support of child abuse victims.
“There are biker clubs out there who are not criminal. Not everyone who looks ‘bad’ is bad. And not everyone who looks ‘good’ is good,” wrote Waco resident Jennifer Parsons on the police department’s Facebook page.
Harley Davidson-Waco, located about half a mile from the crime scene, was closed indefinitely at the request of police, according to its Facebook page.
“We will be working closely with Waco PD to determine when it is safe to reopen. They have also requested that you avoid riding in the area if you have another form of transportation,” the shop posted.
One of the groups involved in the Texas shooting, the Bandidos, was listed by the U.S. Justice Department as an outlaw motorcycle gang that produces and peddles drugs.
Twin Peaks, known for its scantily clad waitresses, said in a statement it is suspending all “bike nights” at its corporate-owned locations and encouraging franchises to do the same during the investigation.
Several locations in Texas announced they were postponing Monday’s planned bikini contest and offered prayers to those affected by the shooting.
Finding motorcycles in downtown Waco stores proved difficult. The most obvious ones were the 100 or so in the Twin Peaks parking lot belonging to the 170 people arrested in Sunday’s violent fight.
And those bikes were being towed away on Monday.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Richard Chang