A shooting involving rival biker gangs at a Texas restaurant has left nine people dead and others injured.
The violence erupted shortly after noon at a busy Waco marketplace along an interstate highway that draws a large lunchtime crowd.
Sgt W Patrick Swanton of Waco police said eight people died at the scene of the shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant and another person at hospital.
It is not clear if any bystanders were among the dead.
Other people were wounded, but just how many and the severity of those injuries was not known.
Sgt Swanton said: “There are still bodies on the scene of the parking lot at Twin Peaks. There are bodies that are scattered throughout the parking lot of the next adjoining business.”
A photo from the scene showed dozens of motorcycles parked in the car park.
Among the bikes, at least three people wearing what looked like biker jackets were on the ground, two on their backs and one face down. Police were standing a few feet away in a group. Several other people also wearing biker jackets were standing or sitting nearby.
Sgt Swanton said police were aware in advance that at least three rival gangs would be gathering at the restaurant and at least 12 Waco officers in addition to state troopers were at the restaurant when the fight began.
When the shooting started in the restaurant and then continued outside, armed bikers were shot by officers, he said, explaining that the actions of law enforcement prevented further deaths.
It is not known what triggered the violence but Sgt Swanton and McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said tensions had simmered among rival gangs for months.
“Apparently the management (of Twin Peaks) wanted them here and so we didn’t have any say-so on whether they could be here or not,” Sgt Swanton said.
Attempts to contact Twin Peaks for comment were not successful.
The fight inside the restaurant began when punches were thrown and it quickly escalated to include chains and knives before firearms were drawn, Sgt Swanton said.