(Reuters) - Nine people were killed on Sunday when a simmering feud among rival biker gangs boiled over at a sports bar in Waco, Texas, resulting in gunfire and a full-blown battle in the parking lot, police said.
The clash took place at Twin Peaks Sports Bar and Grill in a shopping mall in the central Texas city, Waco police said. In addition to the fatalities, more than a dozen people were taken to area hospitals with injuries.
The fight, which involved members of at least three gangs, erupted shortly after noon and quickly escalated into a brawl involving clubs, knives, and chains, Waco Sgt. Patrick Swanton said. The fight may have been tied to a dispute over a parking spot, Swanton said.
When the bikers began shooting, officers moved in, some of them also discharging their weapons, the spokesman said in a televised press conference. When the shooting ended, bodies were scattered across two parking lots.
“These are very dangerous hostile biker gangs,” Swanton said. “A lot of innocent people could have been injured today.”
There would likely have been more casualties, Swanton said, but police were on the scene when the fight erupted, anticipating “issues” with what he called “criminal” gangs.
Eight people were killed at the scene and one died at an area hospital, Swanton said. All of the fatalities were bikers, and no officers were hurt.
The spokesman could not say if any of the casualties were the result of police gunfire.
It was unclear if any of the injured were not affiliated with the biker gangs.
Swanton said police were frustrated with the management of Twin Peaks, a chain restaurant that bills itself as the “ultimate sports lodge” and features scantily clad female servers. He said police had warned the bar that there might be trouble.
Managers of the bar could not be reached immediately for comment, nor could a representative of the parent company in Dallas.
Some area businesses were closing early, and police were warning people to stay away from the area. Swanton said police had received intelligence that other gang members might be coming to the area for “payback.”
Three arrests were made, according to location station KCEN-TV.
Police from multiple jurisdictions were helping with security and the investigation, Swanton said.
Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Toni Reinhold, Andrew Hay and Chris Reese