Theron Rhoten had just pulled into the parking lot on his vintage Harley chopper when the bullets started flying.
Rhoten showed up at the Twin Peaks restaurant for a regional motorcycle club meeting. But, according to his wife, he soon found himself in the middle of a deadly shootout involving scores of other bikers.
Katie Rhoten said her husband ran for cover and was later arrested, along with motorcycle-riding friends and other "nonviolent, noncriminal people."
Authorities on Sunday swept up around 170 bikers who descended on the Waco restaurant.
"He's good to his family," she said. "He doesn't drink. He doesn't do drugs. He doesn't party. He's just got a passion for motorcycles."
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara and Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton declined to comment Tuesday on whether innocent bikers were arrested in the melee that left nine dead and 18 wounded.
Police have said the gathering of five biker groups was to resolve a dispute over turf. Some bikers dispute that, saying the meeting was organized to discuss laws protecting motorcycle riders and other subjects.
Katie Rhoten said her husband, a mechanic from Austin, called her from jail and said that he and two other members of Vise Grip motorcycle club ducked and ran for cover as the violence raged around them.
Police said the shootout started with a parking dispute and someone running over a gang member's foot, and that an uninvited biker group also appeared.
Preliminary autopsy results indicated that all of the dead were shot, some in the head, neck or chest. Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it is not clear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.
The arrested bikers have all been charged with engaging in organized crime and each is being held on $1 million bonds. It is unclear how long they will remain in custody.
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