For a police department that has prevented media access to police records and never has anything to say, they have plenty to say when someone criticizes them.
For almost one month, the public has been kept in the dark regarding the shootout at Twin Peaks. The only thing we know is that the Waco P.D. has handled this case perfectly, because that’s what they keep telling us. At this point, we know more and understand better Einstein’s Theory of Relativity than what occurred in Waco on May 17th.
In defense of themselves, Chief of Police Brent Stroman (what happened to Sgt. Swanton?) issued a press release. The full Press Release can be read at the end of this post. Per the Press Release, 3 police officers fired a total of 12 rounds with rifles which means the remaining 32 rounds were fired by non-law enforcement. It is hard to understand that from reading the Press Release, but at the Press Conference, Chief Stroman made that clear.
He also stated that to his knowledge, no other law enforcement fired rounds other than those fired by 3 the officers. As to which bullets or shots killed the bikers, that is not being released at this time.
The interesting part of all this, is that there are three witnesses, military veterans with weapons training, that have stated to the Associated Press that they heard rapid fire shots from assault rifles. One of those was veteran William English, a former Marine and Iraq War Veteran. Steve Cochran is a veteran of the Navy and he told the A.P. “I heard one pistol shot. All the rest of the shots I heard were assault rifles.” Ron Blackett is the leader for the Confederation of Clubs and Independents and is a former Army and Coast Guard officer. He reported hearing one or two pistol shots followed by a blast of assault rifle fire from where he was parked in a lot behind Twin Peaks.
An assault rifle (AK-47) was recovered, but that was found in a locked car after the shooting. So the military veterans only heard 1 or 2 shots fired from a pistol/handgun, but the police are saying 32 shots were fired from non-law enforcement. Witness testimony is never perfect, but to be off by 30-31 shots? And those that are off are former military? Chief Stroman has made it clear that the rifles Waco P.D. had were capable to be fully automatic but were in “semi-automatic”mode.
Now, a fourth witness, Michael Devoll, who was also held on $1 million bond, says a barrage of assault rifle fire was being shot by the police. Specifically, they were firing M-4’s. Devoll served three tours in Iraq as a Marine. Devoll had just arrived as a passenger in a pick-up truck when the shootings began at Twin Peaks. Devoll’s interview led Chief Stroman to reply “we did not fire indiscriminately into the crowd. Our officers were restrained.”
Also, the amount of weapons found was originally 1,000 something, then it was reduced to 318, has now been increased to 475. More weapons “were found using metal detectors as they were buried beneath the grass in the dirt.”
Apparently, as bullets are whizzing by and bikers have their lives flash before their eyes with nine bikers killed before them, they had the presence of mind to start making holes and burying their weapons they were most likely legally entitled to carry.
The media did not ask but I am curious to know how deep those weapons could have been buried in such a short amount of time and with what? That it wasn’t reported before by witnesses, the Associated Press (who saw the video surveillance), or the Waco P.D. Unless, we are to believe those weapons were buried prior to May 17th, but that wouldn’t make sense either. Not only would it had been difficult to bury weapons in such a public area but finding them in the heat of a shootout is a guaranteed impossibility.
Chief Stroman was asked about the video and he commented he would like to see the video released but that won’t happen until these cases reach court. If that is true, does that mean if everyone takes a plea we will never see the video?
As the Chief of Police, I have to believe he has the authority to release the video, so why not do it? One interesting question posed by a reporter was that the Assistant District Attorney stated in open court that the video shows the Cossacks Motorcycle Club in the patio checking their weapons and taking position as if ready to attack the Bandidos M.C. Which begs the question, with such a visible police presence, 16 officers from Waco P.D., plus Texas Dept. of Public Safety, and no one saw that?
The Associated Press did see the video and reported one biker can be seen firing from the patio, but they never mentioned club members checking their weapons, lining up and taking their positions. Not to mention that sounds more like suicide by cop.
The good news is that 106 of the 177 bikers that were arrested, have had their bond reduced and have bonded out. Which means that my statements on my blog criticizing the excessive bond issued by Justice of the Peace Peterson were correct. Of course, those that criticized me publicly were none other than JP’s, but apparently, the Judges agreed with me and everyone else that the bail was too high.
As one JP replied to me; they receive 80 hours of “intensive training” and 20 hours per year after that. Eighty hours is 2 weeks!
I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice. A semester of college is at least 16 weeks with 4 years total, plus a year and a half of graduate school. Law school was three years plus passing the bar exam. To be a judge in Florida, you need five years of experience under your belt. I don’t have to be licensed in Texas to have enough common sense to know that is a lot more experience than former Trooper J.P. Peterson had. But what do you expect from a JP that was quoted “I think it is important to send a message,” when replying to questions about issuing $1 million bond.
Other good news is that Chief Stroman is promising weekly updates, how revealing those updates will be, time will tell.
Below is the Press Release:
The number of officers initially assigned to the Twin Peaks event on 5-17-15 are as follows:
There were 16 uniformed Waco Police Department Officers to include 5 Supervisors (3 Sergeants, 1 Commander and an Assistant Chief). Included in that number was a Tactical Element (SWAT Officers) assigned and present. None of the Officers were assigned in a sniper capacity and all Officers were in their vehicles at the time the suspects began the shooting. Those Officers were stationed in the parking lots adjacent to the Twin Peaks and were visible to patrons entering the Twin Peaks parking lot. There were 6 marked Waco Police units and 4 unmarked Waco Police vehicles. This does not include DPS vehicles. There were also Texas Department of Public Safety Officers assigned to the event as well.
As of this release, there are a total of 44 shell casings recovered from the Twin Peaks scene. This number does not include the revolver rounds fired by non-law enforcement shooters. Those casings are still being counted. 12 of those casings were from the rifles of 3 Waco Officers who discharged their weapons in defense of their selves or a third party. The Waco SWAT Officers’ weapons are .223 caliber rifles that are capable of full-auto fire; Officers only fired in semi-auto mode during the incident. There was no full-auto gunfire from any of the Officers at the scene. As is normal practice, rifles carried by the Waco SWAT Officers were deployed with sound suppressors. No other Officers fired rounds from any other weapon during the incident. The Officers involved in the shooting have been assigned administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
The number of weapons discovered during our search of the crime scene has increased since the first release and may continue to increase. The weapon count at this point in time is at least 475 weapons. This includes 151 firearms, 12 of which were long guns. The weapons recovered include: knives, brass knuckles, batons, tomahawks, weighted weapons, a hatchet, stun guns, bats, clubs, a machete, a pipe, an ax, pepper spray, and a chain. Many of these were hastily hidden and some were found using metal detectors as they were buried beneath the grass in the dirt. The involved firearms have been transferred to the ATF for analysis. Videos of the incident have been transferred to FBI Investigators for analysis. Full autopsy and ballistics analysis is being conducted by outside labs and the completed and final results have not beenreturned to us as of this release.
The special organizational structure of the Twin Peaks Investigation as it continues is this. There is a Commander assigned over the two Criminal Investigation Units (Special Crimes and SAFE-Support, Abatement, Forfeiture and Enforcement)investigating the cases that have developed from the shootings. There have been 4 additional Officers assigned to Special Crimes and 5 additional Officers assigned to SAFE to assist in the workload. This is in addition to the Detectives permanently assigned to those units. There are a total of 21 Officers and Supervisors assigned to the Twin Peaks Investigation.
Besides the addition of these Officers, we continue to receive support and investigation assistance from the following agencies; Texas Department of Public Safety including their Criminal Investigation Division and the Texas Rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms-ATF, Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission- TABC and the McLennan County District Attorney office.
We initially impounded 130 motorcycles and 91 other vehicles. As of June 10, 2015, 52 motorcycles and 47 vehicles have been released to the owners. In addition to those, 12 of the motorcycles and 3 of the other vehicles were released to the lien holders due to repossession.
At this point, we have recovered over 1000 pieces of evidence from the crime scene, the Convention Center (where suspects were initially detained) and the jail. Search warrants are still being issued in this case in reference to some of the property held as evidence.
There were 239 persons detained at the crime scene as result of the Twin Peaks shootings. At least 62 individuals were released from the crime scene or from the Convention Center without charges being filed. 177 persons were arrested that night or subsequently on warrants obtained by Detectives.