As many as five different outlaw motorcycle gangs had gathered at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, on Sunday morning when a fight broke out.
Police were outside in the parking lot already, wary of the biker gatherings that they had asked restaurant management to put a curb on. Sometime between the restaurant and the parking lot, the combatants took up knives and clubs, and by the time they were outside, guns too.
Police say when the bikers weren't shooting at each other, they were shooting at officers, who promptly returned fire into the melee.
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton told CBS affiliate KWTX it was "one of the most violent scenes I've seen in my 34 years as a police officer in Waco."
When the dust settled, nine people were mortally wounded, and at least 18 more injured. Besides the estimated 100 or so guns Swanton said investigators recovered from the scene, there was an incredible discovery in the aftermath.
"I was amazed that we didn't have innocent civilians killed or injured," Swanton said.
Patrons in Twin Peaks and some employees locked themselves in a freezer to escape the fight, KWTX reports.
"I crawled back towards the freezers with a lot of the waitresses and some other people. It was really, really scary," one witness said. "We didn't know if somebody was going to come back."
A witness told KWTX he and his family had lunch at another restaurant just across a plaza and were walking into the parking lot when they heard several gunshots.
"We crouched down in front of our pick-up truck because that was the only cover we had," the man said, asking the station not to release his name. The witness said he saw several wounded men being treated.
At least 100 bikers were detained, and on surrounding freeways, police pursued other riders for questioning.
Officials told the Waco Tribune there were scuffles and disturbances throughout the city after the shootout, but no other major incidents.
Swanton said Waco police have been aware of criminal biker gangs gathering at the city's Twin Peaks for months.
"We have attempted to work with the local management of Twin Peaks to get that cut back, but to no avail," Swanton said. "Apparently the management wanted them here, so we didn't have any say so on whether they could be here or not."
On Facebook, an operating partner for the Twin Peaks Waco franchise wrote: "Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police."
Sergeant Swanton rejected the comment. "I'll tell you that statement is absolute fabrication. That is not true," he said.