Family members of one of the nine bikers killed in a shootout outside a Texas restaurant on Sunday are disputing police claims that he was part of a criminal group. They pointed out that he was a Vietnam veteran and a Purple Heart recipient with no criminal history.
The Marine Corps Times reported that a review of Texas 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. His son, Vincent Ramirez said his father was not violent.
Rodriguez was one of nine bikers killed 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 the Bandidos and the Cossacks, two rival motorcycle gangs.
Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, a Waco police spokesman, said on Wednesday that all nine killed were part of those two gangs. However, he did not return calls on Thursday about Rodriquez specifically.
According to the Marine Corps Times, military records show Rodriguez was a Marine on active duty from 1969 and 1973, and received the Purple Heart, given to those wounded or killed in action. He also received a Navy commendation medal and other awards.
Family members said Rodriguez was a man who loved to ride motorcycles reports Fox News Latino. They say he was always attending rallies and events for bikers all over Texas.
His son said he wasn’t a part of a club when he went to the event, that he just loved to ride his bike. “His love for bikes only intensified when he retired. “Once he turned 60, he was on the road. (He and his wife) were all over Texas…It didn’t matter who he was with, he just loved to ride,” Ramirez added.
“If he thought there was going to be violence he wouldn’t have gone” said Rodriguez’s son-in-law Amado Garces. “He never carried a weapon,” Ramirez told MySanAntonio. “He didn’t believe in guns. He didn’t even own a gun. The ones he did own he got rid of years ago.”
Ramirez said his father was not an outlaw and belonged to clubs that were for couples where his wife Mary rode with him. His wife would have joined her husband at the event being held but wasn’t able to be there.
Many of the bikers at the meeting have been arrested by Waco police, who rounded up about 170 people and charged them with felony engaging in organized criminal activity. Their bonds are set at $1 million.
There has been concern amongst the biker community that police may have acted too hastily in making arrests and brought in riders who had nothing to do with the violence.
CNN reported that the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a bulletin on Thursday warning of potential new threats to the police from the bikers.
Members of the Bandidos biker gang who are in the military “are supplying the gang with grenades and C4 explosives,” according to a bulletin. It warned of plots targeting high-ranking law enforcement officials and their families with car bombs.
The bulletin is based on unsubstantiated information from an informant who claimed to have obtained it from Bandidos and Black Widows motorcycle gang members.
Meanwhile, police are finding more evidence and clues about what happened. Law enforcement has found more than 300 weapons that were left behind. They feel some bikers may have stashed away even more.
“These were vicious criminals that knew that they were in trouble, and they were trying to dispose of evidence,” Swanton said. He said the people arrested were members of biker gangs with criminal elements that have been monitored by local authorities for months.
According to CNN, none of the defendants have had their day in court yet. Some of their families have expressed concern that the high bail amount is ridiculous and unfair.