WACO, Texas (CNN) — Gunfire erupted Sunday among rival biker gangs in Waco, Texas, leaving at least nine people dead, according to police.
Authorities had anticipated trouble and pre-positioned officers.
“There were at least three rival gang groups here this morning for whatever reason. As they were here, we had officers on scene. We expected issues,” said Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, a police spokesman.
The fight broke out at Twin Peaks restaurant and spilled into the parking lot. It quickly escalated from hands and feet, as weapons, to gunfire, Swanton said.
He expressed anger at the management of Twin Peaks, which he claims has been less than helpful in dealing with gangs in the past. He declined to identify the specific groups involved in Sunday’s shooting.
“Are we frustrated? Sure. Because we feel like there may have been more that could have been done by a business to prevent this,” Swanton said.
To escape the fight, some restaurant customers and employees took cover in the freezer, according to CNN affiliate KWTX. The station reported that more than 100 weapons were recovered, and Waco police said officers were continuing to arrest people arriving with weapons.
Swanton told reporters that eight people were dead on the scene and another was pronounced dead at an area hospital. All are believed to be bikers. A total of 18 people were taken to the hospital. It was not immediately clear whether that figure included the person who died.
No officers were hurt, Swanton said, praising their response.
“Their action has saved lives in keeping this from spilling into a very busy Sunday morning,” the spokesman said. “Thank goodness the officers were here, and took the action that they needed to take to save numerous lives.”