One of nine bikers killed at a shootout outside a Texas restaurant was a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient whose family members dispute police claims he was in a criminal group.
A review of court records and a database maintained by the state Department of Public Safety turned up no criminal history in Texas for Jesus Delgado Rodriguez, 65, of New Braunfels. And his son Vincent Ramirez told the San Antonio Express-News that he was not violent.
Rodriguez was one of nine bikers killed last Sunday when gunfire erupted at Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, where motorcyclists had gathered for a meeting. Authorities have said the shooting began during an apparent confrontation between two rival motorcycle gangs — the Bandidos and the Cossacks.
Waco police spokesman Sgt W Patrick Swanton said all those killed were part of those two gangs. He was less specific later, saying all those killed or injured were part of five criminal motorcycle gangs.
Military records show Rodriguez was a Marine on active duty from 1969 and 1973, and received the Purple Heart. He also received a navy commendation medal.
Family members said Rodriguez was a biker and had belonged to two now-defunct motorcycle clubs, one of which allowed couples.
But he was not part of any club when he was killed in Waco, they said, though he had friends who were Bandidos. “If he thought there was going to be violence he wouldn’t have gone,” his son-in-law Amado Garces told the Express-News.
Video footage shows that when gunfire erupted in the car park of the restaurant, most of the bikers watching the confrontation from the patio or inside immediately ran away from the shooting. A few tried to direct people to safety, crawling on all fours heading for cover. One ran away with blood on his face, hands and torso. A woman could be heard screaming, “Oh my God!” Others yelled, “Get down!”
Restaurant security video showed only one of the dozens of bikers recorded firing a gun from the patio of the restaurant. None of the nine video angles shows the car park. Many of the bikers on tape are likely to have been arrested by Waco police, who rounded up about 170 people, charged them with felony engaging in organised criminal activity and set bonds at $1m (€907m).
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