By J.B. Smith
As more bikers are released from McLennan County Jail, the accounts of what led up to the deadly shootout at Twin Peaks come into sharper conflict with each other.
Police and prosecutors have painted the May 17 shooting as a clash of rival “gangs” — primarily the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs — that were armed and prepared to settle scores in a public place.
Waco police have said more than 300 weapons found at the scene show there was “criminal intent” among the 177 who were jailed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
“(It) indicates to the public that these are not clubs, these are criminal gangs that came here with the intent or anticipation of violence,” Waco police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said in the week after the shooting.
Bikers and their attorneys give different accounts of the cause of the conflict, depending on their sympathies toward one group or another.
But the bikers on both sides say they were shocked by the eruption of violence and tried to get out of the way, only to be arrested as co-conspirators.
Matt Clendennen, a member of the Cossacks-aligned Scimitars Motorcycle Club, was released on bond Tuesday. He said he was on the patio sipping ice water and waiting to order lunch when the parking lot fight broke out, then immediately took refuge in an interior hallway.
“I didn’t have weapons of any kind,” said Clendennen, 30, a former firefighter who owns a landscaping business in Hewitt. “The only thing I had was a miniature pocketknife. I’m a business person, a hardworking person, a family man. If I thought there was potential for violence with any organization, I would not be part of it. Why would I? Why put my family in danger?”
Likewise, attorneys for Sandra “Drama” Lynch and her husband, Mike Lynch, of Mart, said the two were unarmed and unprepared for the conflict.
Sandra Lynch had arrived before 11:30 a.m. to set up for a 1 p.m. regional meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a bikers’ rights coalition for which she is an officer. The group is headed by a Bandido, and Cossacks are not members.
Sandra Lynch was surprised when she saw a large group of Cossacks arriving around 11:30 a.m., said her attorney, Gary Smart of Arlington.
“When the Cossacks got there, her heart just sunk,” he said. “She just knew there was going to be trouble. (Cossacks) had been causing trouble around Waco for a while.”
At 11:33 a.m., she texted a friend from the biker confederation that a Cossack had just run into her in the parking lot. At that point, about 50 Cossacks had arrived, according to Lynch’s text.
“They were making derogatory comments and saying, ‘Get out of our way, we’re Cossacks,’ ” Smart said.
Police have said the altercation started when someone’s foot was run over, but Smart said Lynch had nothing to do with the fight, which started an hour after she was allegedly hit.
“She didn’t yell and scream,” he said. “She’s not going to start an altercation. It’s not in her nature.”
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