Texas Bikers Arrested After Waco Shootout Say They Are Innocent Ester and Walt Weaver are among the 177 people jailed after a fight between rival motorcycle clubs in May. They say the guns they carried are legal and they weren't part of the clubs or the violence.

Texas Bikers Arrested After Waco Shootout Say They Are Innocent

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Walt Weaver still can't believe he was arrested on a Sunday afternoon in Waco, Texas.

WALT WEAVER: Two months ago, if you'd have told me that this could happen to this many people in the manner in which it was done, I'd have looked you in the eye and called you a liar.

MCEVERS: Two months ago, Walt Weaver and his wife, Ester, were among 177 people arrested after a bloody shootout in a restaurant parking lot.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Nine people were shot dead during what police say was a fight between two rival motorcycle clubs. Most of the people who were rounded up and arrested have been released on bail. Many, like the Weavers, say that they have nothing to do with outlaw biker gangs and nothing to do with the violence. And we're going to hear more about them now.

MCEVERS: I actually met Walt and Ester Weaver during a recent trip to Waco, Texas. Walt is a veteran who still works for the Army. He rides a Harley and says he used to be in motorcycle clubs but isn't in one now. Ester is a housewife. She wears a black leather vest with patches for the Queens of Sheba. It's a club that rides on weekends and collects money for charity. She says ever since she was arrested, people point and whisper.

ESTER WEAVER: I can tell by how people stare because I guess - well, we've been in the newspaper and on the Internet and, you know, just - it's put a bad cloud over us.

MCEVERS: It all started on a Sunday afternoon. Walt and Ester Weaver's plan was to go to a regular meeting of the Confederation of Clubs and Independents. It's a group that lobbies for bikers' rights. The meeting was set for 1 o'clock at a chain restaurant called Twin Peaks, which Walt and Ester say is famous for hangover burgers with fried eggs on them and underdressed waitresses.

W. WEAVER: I drove down in my truck and took four or five friends with me. She rode later when the weather cleared.

MCEVERS: On your bike?

E. WEAVER: On my bike.

W. WEAVER: On the motorcycle.

E. WEAVER: 'Cause he was buying my lunch. (Laughter).

MCEVERS: Walt says all kinds of motorcycle clubs were there that day. So-called outlaw clubs the police say are involved in drug trafficking and prostitution, but also Christian clubs and gear heads who restore old bikes.

W. WEAVER: Everybody was saying hello and shaking hands, you know - hey, Bob, haven't seen you since since the last charity event. Hey Bill, you know - Joe, let me introduce you to this other guy, Pete.

MCEVERS: While that was happening, Walt saw Ester park her bike and start to light a cigarette.

W. WEAVER: And she walked halfway towards me, and that's when I heard the first shots fired. I did not see where they came from. I stood there for a second. I'm like, are you kidding me? It's a sunny afternoon in the middle of Waco in Texas. This is not downtown Baghdad.

MCEVERS: People started running away from the shots. It's still unclear who was firing. Police say two main motorcycle clubs that had been at war for months - the Cossacks and the Bandidos - had planned to negotiate some kind of truce that day, though lawyers for the Bandidos say that's not true. Either way, police and witnesses say one Cossack was knocked down by a Bandido or a Bandido supporter in the parking lot. Guys from both sides rushed in, threw punches and then somebody started shooting. Police eventually fired shots, too. Walt Weaver bolted toward a little grassy hill at the edge of the parking lot. Ester Weaver did the same.

E. WEAVER: Then that's when I looked to the right, and I saw Walt on the ground as well. I was like OK, we're safe - he doesn't look like he's hurt or anything. And that was that.

MCEVERS: Police told everybody to stay on the ground.

W. WEAVER: If I remember right, there would be one policeman, he was pointing his weapon at your back. The other one would come to you and ask you if you had any weapons on you. You would say either yes or no.

MCEVERS: The answer was yes. Walt and Ester Weaver both had brand-new Smith and Wesson five-shot revolvers. They say they didn't draw their guns that day. Like many Texans, both have concealed handgun licenses and carry their guns most of the time. Eventually, the two were rounded up, handcuffed with zip ties and bussed with hundreds of other people to a nearby convention center.

W. WEAVER: The assumption was that they were going to keep us, we were going to make witness statements - what did you see, what didn't you see? And then we were going to go home.

MCEVERS: But that didn't happen. Walt and Ester say police did question them a little, but did not read them their rights. Then around 3 in the morning, they were herded into buses again and taken to jail.

E. WEAVER: So I remember as soon as I got off the bus, I went to give him a kiss, and the guard pulled me and pulled him, and we're, like, being pulled away as we're trying to kiss each other. And we never got to kiss. And then that was it till I saw him again 18 days later.

MCEVERS: Along with nearly 200 other people, Walt and Ester Weaver were jailed on charges of engaging in an organized criminal activity and given a $1 million bond. Here's Waco Police spokesman Patrick Swanton the day after the shootout at Twin Peaks restaurant.

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PATRICK SWANTON: A hundred-seventy individuals have been charged with engaging in organized crime in reference to a capital murder case at Twin Peaks. That basically says that 170 people have been involved in capital murder.

MCEVERS: That number later went up to 177. Many suspects, including the Weavers, hired lawyers, got their bonds reduced and eventually got released. But still, Walt and Ester Weaver are on a curfew. They can't associate with other members of motorcycle clubs and they still could be indicted. Walt Weaver says he still can't believe this happened in his state.

W. WEAVER: This is Texas. This is a good Republican red state. They don't violate people's rights here.

E. WEAVER: They don't do stuff like that.

W. WEAVER: Take that up to Chicago and New York, not here.

MCEVERS: It's not just the Weavers who are upset. A lot of people who were arrested that day say they're innocent, that they had nothing to do with the two outlaw biker clubs who got in a fight. And these are people who usually support the police. Walt and Ester Weaver used to take cops out to lunch. Now some people in Waco are starting to believe the whole Twin Peaks incident was actually planned by police as a way to round up bikers. Police deny this. Walt and Ester Weaver's lawyer, Lewis Giles, says it's more likely that tempers got hot, a fight broke out and a few people committed deadly violence. He says the bystanders shouldn't have been arrested for simply being at a restaurant, riding motorcycles, legally carrying guns and wearing black leather vests with club patches.

LEWIS GILES: That is literally a case of the fashion police.

MCEVERS: A spokesman for the Waco Police told us the Weavers and others will have their say in court. Defense lawyers are pressing police to release video from security cameras that recorded what happened in Waco that day. For now, Walt Weaver says he just wants an apology, but he doubts he'll get one.

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