A lawsuit filed last week against the owners of the Waco Twin Peaks alleges that before the first shot was fired, “occupied…the rooftop of a neighboring restaurant.”
The suit was filed on behalf of the widow, children and parents of Matthew Mark Smith, a member of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club and a former member of the Scimitars Motorcycle Club. Smith was shot once in the upper right back by a jacketed projectile that left a quarter inch hole. That would be consistent with a projectile fired by an FN P90 or an M16 both of which were carried by police at the scene. That jacketed projectile partially fragmented and was recovered. It was the shot that killed Smith. It caused his right pleural cavity to fill with about a liter of blood. He was also shot in the lower, lateral abdomen by a projectile that was never recovered but that left a slightly larger hole that would match common pistol rounds.
Smith’s survivors are suing the owners of the Waco Twin Peaks and the Twin Peaks Franchisor which is called Front Burner Restaurants. They are seeking damages of more that $1 million.
Shortly after the massacre, there were unsubstantiated rumors that police had deployed snipers on a neighboring rooftop and fired down into the crowd of bikers in the Twin Peaks parking lot. At a June 12 press conference, Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman said “We did not have snipers or counter-snipers deployed. We did not fire indiscriminately from…uh…into the crowd.”
The suit, filed on behalf of the survivors by Fort Worth lawyers Robert Haslam and Coby L. Wooten, does not substantiate the claim that: “On or about May 17, 2015, the date of the event, local police again attempted to enter the Waco restaurant to ensure the safety of patrons, but management asked them to leave to increase profits and not deter the spending. State and local law enforcement then occupied positions outside of the property, including the rooftop of a neighboring restaurant.”
The Restaurant Did It
The suit also alleges
“In the months leading up to the occurrence in question, prior altercations on ‘Bike Nights’ occurred; and a neighboring restaurant to the Waco Twin Peaks location voiced concerns about the safety of these biker themed events. Twin Peaks knew the danger presented in ‘Bike Nights.’ Twin Peaks agreed to host the May 17, 2015 meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents (a statewide biker club coalition) at its Waco location. And in the weeks leading up to the event, local police warned Twin Peaks against hosting the event.”
“Local police confronted management at the Waco Twin Peaks with the intelligence they had received and their safety concerns about hosting the event, but consistent with prior conduct, Twin Peaks was resistant to the concerns of law enforcement. Approximately seventy two hours before the event, police contacted Twin Peaks’ national headquarters in Dallas with these concerns, and in response Twin Peaks chose to profit from the event.”
But a Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division Investigative Report dated May 18 and written by DPS agent Christopher Frost contradicts many of the allegations in the suit.
According to Frost
Frost mentions two incidents at the Twin Peaks that featured bikers.
“On April 16, 2015 at approximately 8:00 P.M., DPS Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Wachendorf observed forty to fifty members of the Cossack MC turning into the parking lot of Twin Peaks. Trooper Wachendorf notified the Waco Police Department and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department who responded and began monitoring the area. No known disturbances occurred.”
A week later, “the Waco Police Department responded to a disturbance at Twin Peaks. This disturbance resulted in the arrest of a Cossacks MC member for unlawfully possessing a handgun on a licensed premise. A bandana containing a padlock was also seized from the same individual during this arrest.”
Frost also reports that he talked to the Twin Peaks General Counsel on May 14. It was the first time any police tried to contact the restaurant chain. That lawyer explained the Waco restaurant was a franchise and promised to have someone from the franchise contact Frost. An hour later the Twin Peaks owner Jay Patel called Frost. “Jay Patel called Special Agent Chris Frost and identified himself as the owner of Twin Peaks in Waco,” Frost reports. “Special Agent Frost explained to Patel that it was DPS CID’S understanding that there was to be a meeting of the Coalition of Clubs on 05-17-15 and asked Patel if the entire Twin Peaks establishment was rented out for this meeting. Patel explained to Special Agent Frost that the Coalition of Clubs had only rented out the patio area of Twin Peaks. Special Agent Frost explained to Patel that there was rising tension between two motorcycle gangs that could possibly both be in attendance at this meeting. Patel explained to Special Agent Frost that Patel was told to expect approximately four hundred (400) bikes and due to this Twin Peaks had hired three security guards. Special Agent Frost advised Patel to call Special Agent Frost if any threats are received or heard of by Twin Peaks.”
Frost’s report indicates that police were most interested in knowing whether the whole restaurant had been rented to the visiting bikers. “Once information was confirmed that only the patio was rented and the main portion of the restaurant would be open to the public, a decision was made to have Special Agents working in undercover capacity to be inside the restaurant. These Special Agents would be inside the restaurant to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence from inside the restaurant.”
Frost states that DPS decided on the morning of May 17, “not to send undercover Special Agents into the restaurant. A decision was made for Special Agents to pair up to conduct surveillance of the area and gather intelligence.”