Six Shooter Junction rides again

Maybe it’s the location that has led to all the bloodshed.The latest count: 9 killed and almost 20 wounded. That was what came from a clash of more than three different biker gangs that went from fighting in a restaurant bathroom to shooting outside. Nearly 175 are in jail for the bloody melee in Waco.

The best quote of the day: “They’re not here to drink beer and eat barbecue,” said Waco police spokesman, Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton.

 "They're not here to drink beer and eat barbecue"--Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Waco police spokesman

“They’re not here to drink beer and eat barbecue”–Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Waco police spokesman

Way back in the 1870s when cattle were being driven to the market in the Midwest, a spur of the Chisholm Trail as well as passing railroads made Waco, Texas, a busy place. Waco laid out crazily upon the Brazos River made the streets running north and south going east and west and vice versa. Cowboys who didn’t get lost on the streets may have been even more disoriented coming from a night of whiskey guzzling in the many saloons with a stop in the red light district.

Waco had a tough Texas nickname. It was called “Six Shooter Junction” back then.

Despite the carnage coming from barroom shootouts and occasional street duels — a steady dose of dissing the mighty Baptist school Baylor University by the town’s nationally-known journalist William C. Brann got him fatally wounded one day after a shootout — It would be in the 20th and 21st centuries when the real bloodshed flowed.

In the 1990s, a controversial raid by the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency on a religious cult that ended that day with four ATF agents and six members of the Branch Davidians. This led to a 51-day siege that ended into a fire killing 76 Davidians who had stayed behind at their compound about 10 miles east of Waco. Included in those who died was the leader of cult, Vernon Howell, who was later known as David Koresh.

Though not always peaceful — I covered more than 20 murders in Waco and McLennan County at the turn of the century during the two years I worked as a police beat reporter — the next large loss of life came in 2013 from an industrial explosion about 15 miles north of Waco in the city of West. A fertilizer plant blew up killing 15 and injuring 160. Most of what was settled in the 1880s by Czech emigrants was destroyed. An investigation found the ammonium nitrate — the volatile fertilizer component — was improperly stored.

The needless deaths and injuries — reports say four bikers may have been shot by police — is like something you see on TV. It’s worthy of a “Sons of Anarchy” episode.

It is also something that, much like the Branch Davidian saga, didn’t have to happen, at least according to police.

Information about possible biker throwdowns led Waco police and state troopers to the Twin Peaks restaurant for the past month. Though I’ve not frequented one, Twin Peaks is supposedly “manned” by women dressed in skimpy outfits as is the case at Hooters. Twin Peaks, go figure.

The restaurant is located in a shopping center near the southern outskirts, just off Interstate 35, between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. The center is what you see in almost every city above 100,000 people. I have driven I-35 more than I ever wanted to do so. You can’t go from Dallas to San Antonio without seeing the same big box stores and restaurants that pop up from one stop to the other. Perhaps the almost equal distance between the cities may be part of the reason Waco was such a good place for a “meet and greet.”

Maybe it is ironic to some while sickening to others, but our governor issued a statement today about the Waco incident:

“Texas will not stand for the type of lawlessness we witnessed in Waco yesterday, said Gov. Greg Abbott, R, Texas.”

Hmm, I wonder if he will think about that when he signs a bill allowing Texans to openly carry handguns. One can only wonder what might have happened if people were carrying their “shootin’ irons” when something like Twin Peaks broke out. Some might say, that armed civilians carrying their guns would scare them “thugs” off. Maybe. But maybe not. You get a bunch of drunked up, tweaked up guys armed to the teeth, you think Casper Milquetoast sitting there wearing his 9-mm will make his quick draw before Bill the Killer wraps a bike chain and snaps off his neck? Maybe the confusion will be worse.

I wonder if The Abbott thinks about those things?


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