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An Insider's Perspective On The Biker Gang Shootout

Will Marlow

The massive scale of the biker gang shootout in Waco couldn’t have been predicted, but some experts knew serious trouble was brewing.

Steve Cook spent years learning about biker gangs from the inside. He runs the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Investigators Association. He also spent time undercover in biker gangs.

They’re no strangers to Texas, he says, but violence was kept somewhat in check because a single gang, the Bandidos, were the outlaws-in-control.

Sunday the Bandidos tangled with another gang called the Cossacks.

“The Cossacks had decided to put on a Texas bottom rocker. The bottom rocker is the patch that they wear at the bottom of their vest that claims territory,” says Cook. “For the Cossacks to do that, they’re basically telling the Bandidos, we’re as good as you are. You don’t own any more of the state than we do and you don’t dictate to us.”

Cook, who’s based in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, says these gangs differ starkly from street gangs.

“If you’re a Bandido in Texas and you’re a Bandido in Alabama, you guys know each other. You’re all under the same flag, you had the same membership process. It’s not like a street gang situation where it’s very loosely knit. These guys are all connected into an organized crime entity much like their predecessors in the mob.”

There’s plenty of biker gang activity in North Texas, he says. Along with the Bandidos and Cossacks, there are the Scorpions, Ghost Riders and Banshees.  Because Dallas and Fort Worth are big cities, biker gang crime often gets lost in the shuffle.

“There’s such other significant crime issues in Dallas. A lot of homicides, they have other gang activity, cartel activity, and so a lot of times it is just easy for these guys to fly way under the radar,” Cook says.

And when it comes to Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Cook says communities can’t afford to have short memories. Sunday’s shootout is a testament to that.

“God forbid a child would have been involved in what happened. And I can assure you these people, the Cossacks and Bandidos, they don’t care. They’re out for blood. They don’t care who gets hurt in the process,” he says.

This time, the victims were members of rival gangs. Cook says the story could have easily ended differently.

The Twin Peaks corporate office in Addison has revoked the Waco restaurant’s franchise. That means if the business re-opens, it won’t be under the name Twin Peaks. Its liquor license has also been suspended by the state.