A small fraction of the surveillance video shot by the Don Carlos restaurant in Waco between about 12:35 p.m. and about 2:05 p.m. on May 17 was leaked to 65 press contacts including The Aging Rebel yesterday afternoon. The contacts include reporters and editors at the New York Times, Wall Street journal, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, MSNBC, Fox, the Waco Tribune-Herald and numerous television stations.
The Don Carlos surveillance videos are multiplexed: The restaurant recorded the input from 16 cameras on one hard drive. Yesterday’s leaked video shows the view from Camera Two, which recorded activity around the front door of the restaurant and a small portion of the parking lot facing southwest in the general direction of the Twin Peaks restaurant. It faces toward but does not show the signup desk for the Confederation of Clubs and Independents meeting held that day. That is the portion of the shared parking lot where at least four of nine men were killed. An additional 18 people were wounded.
The Don Carlos and Twin Peaks parking lots were separated by a strip of lawn.
The sixteen camera views are: 1 Kitchen; 2 Parking Lot; 3 Loading Dock; 4 Seating Area; 5 Bar; 6 Office; 7 Hostess; 8 Kitchen; 9 Patio; 10 Patio; 11 Side Door; 12 Patio; 13 Back Dock; 14 Parking Lot; 15 Parking Lot; and 16 Parking Lot.
The hard drive from which the leaked video was copied is in the possession of the law firm Broden, Mickelsen, Helms & Snipes, LLP. It was not sent to The Aging Rebel by that law firm but by another source using a pseudonym. As a courtesy to that source, The Aging Rebel self embargoed the video until somebody else broke the story. Television Station KCEN announced the leak and very generally described the video at 4:29 p.m. Pacific time yesterday.
Yesterday evening this page received commentary on the video from multiple sources. One source who has viewed the entire hard drive said, “It would appear that the relevant cameras are 2, 14, 15, 16 although they are redundant to a large degree. Camera 7 may also have some relevance and Camera 11 displays what appears to be Justice of the Peace Peterson.”
A second source said, “The video from the rest of the angles should be coming out in a couple of weeks though…none of them show much of the fight. None of us understand why this video was suppressed at all – unless something significant happens herein that we haven’t noticed yet.”
The video is time and date stamped. The parking lot and patio in front of the Twin Peaks is obscured by the roof line of the Don Carlos porch. The view does not extend much beyond the grass median between the two lots. Photos taken the afternoon of May 17 show that a line of about a dozen bikes was pulling into the Don Carlos lot when the shooting started. Members of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club had already parked in the area closest to the registration desk at the eastern end of the Twin Peaks. Contemporary photos indicate that a policeman taking cover behind the pole that supports the Twin Peaks sign fired at least five shots into the parking lot in the area where the two clubs confronted each other.
The video is mostly useful for determining the chronology of events. There is no sound.
The shooting started at exactly 12:41:01 p.m. Waco time. At 12:39:30 a couple entered the Don Carlos with hardly a glance toward the Twin Peaks. Eleven seconds later two men in front of the Don Carlos stare toward the looming confrontation and a small knot of police is visible on the other side of the grass median near the southeast end of the Twin Peaks. A black SUV, such as government agents sometimes drive, moves from southeast to northwest toward the Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Store in the Texas Marketplace shopping center and toward the arriving line of Bandidos on the access road in front of the Don Carlos at about 12:40:27 p.m.
One of the spectators goes inside. The other, wearing a blue shirt looks bored as he stands and watches. He rocks from side to side waiting for something to happen and then he turns to his left and runs inside. (See the screen grab above.)
A cluster of seven uniformed cops runs through the Twin Peaks lot in the same direction. Two Swat officers are visible and it is obvious that there are many more than 22 cops on the scene. All of the action appears to take place at the northwest end of the lot and is invisible from Camera Two. All of the police have M-16s. They hide behind cars. One cop with a long rifle reloads at 12:48:48 and the fight appears to be mostly over by 12:42:58 although the police still seem frightened and jazzed on adrenaline.
A white police SUV with its blue flashers blinking pulls into the shot at 12:43:13. A cop gets out 20 seconds later and runs toward the Twin Peaks lot in a crouch. He seems to have missed the fight but he and three other cops come running back 13 seconds later and three cops who look like ninjas crouch behind a car at the southeast corner of the camera view. They appear to be covering the main entrance to the Twin Peaks.
The cops are so spooked that at 12:46:20, about five minutes into the tragedy, one cop appears to try to literally stick his or her head up another cop’s buttocks. The video has an excellent view of those three cops standing there long minute and long minute. They are clearly talking to other police to the south and east of the camera. Some cops sprint. Others stroll. They clot into little groups with their M-16s pressed to their shoulders.
Nine cops, presumably reinforcements, in light brown shirts arrive at 12:51:45. The fight seems over but there are still no sign of ambulances. At 12:57:58, about seventeen minutes after the shooting started, a cop carrying two rifles walks back to the white police SUV. He seems to change clothes then walks back toward the Twin Peaks at 12:58:47.
The first customer ventures out of the Don Carlos at 1:06:49 p.m. The first onlooker with a smart phone starts shooting video at 1:08:15. Multiple Don Carlos customers come out and shoot video of the crime scene over the next several minutes until about 1:20 p.m. A man in a salmon colored shirt wearing web gear that holds what might be a camera or a machine gun appears at 1:20:50 p.m. He talks to a cop at the southeast edge of the camera view who then takes off his shirt to reveal a yellow tee shirt under his ballistic vest. The black SUV drives back to the southeast and apparently leaves at 1:21:30.
People exit the Don Carlos carrying leftover containers and at 1:28:30 customers, including customers who have shot video of the crime scene, start to leave. At about 1:31:45 a customer who is shooting video of the scene is clearly told by a cop off camera to stop.
A cop in civilian clothes except for a vest that says “State Police” appears for the first time at 1:34:04 and the white police SUV pulls away at 1:36:29. Cops in riot gear appear at about 1:44 and cops with M-16s began to enter the Don Carlos.
At about 1:57 the plain clothes state policeman and another cop in plain clothes carrying a machine gun greet each other and replay the gunfight with their hands. They point and spread their arms wide. Then one of them leaves and the other describes the fight to an old, fat cop.
The crime scene tape finally goes up around the Don Carlos at about 2:05 p.m.