WACO - The authorities acted swiftly and thoroughly last week in the aftermath of the biker gang shootout at a Waco restaurant that left 9 dead and 18 wounded: officials arrested and booked 170 bikers on charges of engaging in organized crime. A judge ordered each of them held in lieu of $1 million bonds.
A group of allegedly unaffiliated bikers from around the state gathered Saturday outside the McLennan County Courthouse to protest that decision, reports CBS affiliate KWTX in Waco. They said many of those arrested were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"They're out here today to bring awareness that there's probably motorcyclists in jail right now that haven't done anything more than just ride a motorcycle," said protester Ferrell Surtte.
They carried signs with such messages as "Free the Innocent" and "Due Process" and said that if they had been at Waco's Twin Peaks restaurant on Sunday, they could easily have been arrested too.
As the protesters gathered Saturday, the family of one of the nine people killed in the shootout.
The funeral for Richard V. "Bear" Kirschner Jr. was held at a funeral home in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
The 47-year-old motorcycle enthusiast was among those killed when an apparent dispute over a parking spot at a gathering of different motorcycle gangs erupted in gunfire on May 17 outside the Twin Peaks restaurant. Waco police spokesman Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton has said all those killed or injured were members of five criminal motorcycle gangs at the Twin Peaks restaurant for a biker meeting.
According to CBS Dallas, members of the Cossack biker gang were present. The media was not allowed into the funeral home.
The shootout has been characterized by some as the culmination in a buildup of tensions between the Cossacks and Bandidos motorcycle gangs. Texas officials issued a warning leading up to the incident saying the two drug- and gun-running groups were in a territorial dispute.
State investigators issued a bulletin warning last week that members of the Bandidos motorcycle gang may be plotting attacks on law enforcement, and law officers in Waco say it's being treated as a serious threat.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara says his office received the bulletin Friday issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. McNamara says the bulletin warns of retaliation against officers and their families following a shootout with bikers in Waco that left nine dead, 18 injured and 170 jailed.
McNamara says threats against law enforcement have streamed in since Sunday's melee at a restaurant in Waco, though some are more plausible than others.
He says, "Are they going to come into town at 100 miles per hour lobbing grenades and firebombs? Right now, we don't know."