Wife of biker inmate: Some arrested in Texas are innocent

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Biker's Wife Claims He's Innocent

WACO, Texas (AP) — Bullets ricocheted around the parking lot of Twin Peaks, the Waco restaurant where a motorcycle gang shootout left nine dead, just minutes after Theron Rhoten pulled in on his vintage Harley chopper for a regional motorcycle club meeting, according to Rhoten's wife.

Katie Rhoten told The Associated Press that her husband ran for cover and was later arrested, along with antique motorcycle enthusiast friends and other "nonviolent, noncriminal people." Authorities swept up around 170 bikers who had descended on the restaurant for what one club member described as a gathering to discuss laws protecting motorcycle riders.

"He's good to his family," she said. "He doesn't drink; he doesn't do drugs; he doesn't party. He's just got a passion for motorcycles."

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Wife of biker inmate: Some arrested in Texas are innocent
Authorities investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas. Authorities say that the shootout victims were members of rival biker gangs that had gathered for a meeting. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
WACO, TX - MAY 18: Motorcyles sit in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant, the scene of a motorcyle gang shootout, May 18, 2015 in Waco, Texas. A shootout between rival biker gangs began in the afternoon May 17, led to nine dead, many injured and 170 arrerested. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
FILE - In this May 17, 2015 file photo, authorities investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant, in Waco, Texas. Six witnesses say they heard a few pistol shots before automatic fire took over during a shootout last month at a Waco Twin Peaks restaurant. Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but say they cannot address how many of the nine dead and 18 wounded were shot by bikers and how many were shot by officers. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson, File)
Law enforcement continue to investigate the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant, Monday, May 18, 2015, in Waco, Texas, where nine were killed Sunday and over a dozen injured. About 170 gang members charged with engaging in organized crime are each being held on a $1 million bond and authorities say charges of capital murder are expected in the wake of the Central Texas shooting. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
People stand as officers investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas. Authorities say that the shootout victims were members of rival biker gangs that had gathered for a meeting. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
WACO, TX - MAY 18: Law enforcement officials stands at the scene of a motorcyle gang shootout theTwin Peaks restaurant May 18, 2015 in Waco, Texas. A shootout between rival biker gangs began in the afternoon May 17, led to nine dead, many injured and 170 arrerested. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Law enforcement continue to investigate the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant, Monday, May 18, 2015, in Waco, Texas, where 9 were killed Sunday and over a dozen injured. Waco police on Monday announced the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission closed Twin Peaks for a week amid safety concerns. (AP Photo, Jerry Larson)
FILE - In this May 17, 2015 file photo, authorities investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas. Police shot bikers in the deadly shootout that erupted last spring outside a Texas restaurant, though it remains unclear if their bullets caused any of the nine fatalities, according to evidence reviewed by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson, File)
Police detain and watch members of various motorcycle clubs outside the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. A shootout among rival motorcycle gangs at a popular Texas restaurant left nine bikers dead and more than a dozen injured, a police spokesman said Sunday. (AP Photo/John L. Mone)
Authorities investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas. Authorities say that the shootout victims were members of rival biker gangs that had gathered for a meeting. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
Authorities investigate a shooting in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas. Authorities say that the shootout victims were members of rival biker gangs that had gathered for a meeting. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
WACO, TX - MAY 18: Waco Police Department Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Patrick Swanton gives a press conference in front of the Twin Peaks restaurant May 18, 2015 in Waco, Texas. A shootout between rival biker gangs began in the afternoon May 17, led to nine dead, many injured and 170 arrerested. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton addresses the media as law enforcement continues to investigate the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant, Monday, May 18, 2015, in Waco, Texas, where nine were killed Sunday and over a dozen injured. About 170 gang members charged with engaging in organized crime are each being held on a $1 million bond and authorities say charges of capital murder are expected in the wake of the Central Texas shooting. (AP Photo, Jerry Larson)
Police detain and watch members of various motorcycle clubs near a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. A shootout among rival motorcycle gangs at the popular Texas restaurant left nine bikers dead and more than a dozen injured, a police spokesman said Sunday. (AP Photo/John L. Mone)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left; Ray Allen, Brian Brincks, Salvador Campos, Richard Cantu and David Cepeda. Middle row from left; Bohar Crump, James David, James Devoll, Matthew Folse and Juan Garcia. Bottom row from left; Mario Gonzalez, James Gray, Jim Harris, Michael Herring and Tommy Jennings. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left; Jonathan Lopez, Richard Luther, Michael Lynch, Sandra Lynch, Eleazar Martinez and Tom Mendez. Middle row from left; Marshall Mitchell, Diego Obledo, Danny Oehlert, Larry Pina, Jerry Pollard and Jimmy Pond. Bottom row from left; Clayton Reed, Rolando Reyes, Sergio Reyes, Kyle Smith, Jimmy Spencer and Blake Taylor. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This booking photo provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows Martin Lewis. Lewis, a retired San Antonio police detective, was among about 170 people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left to right; Jorge Salinas, Bobby Samford, Phillip Sampson, Andrew Sandoval and Timothy Satterwhite. Second row from left to right; Trey Short, Phillip Smith, Seth Smith, Seth Smith and Christopher Stainton. Third row from left to right; James Stallings, Andrew Stroer, Bradley Terwilliger, Michael Thomas and Christian Valencia. Fourth row from left to right; Jose Valle, Royce Vanvleck, James Venable, John Vensel and Justin Waddington. Fifth row from left to right; Daryle Walker, Glenn Walker, Steven Walker, Ronald Warren and Reginald Weathers. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left to right: Edward Keller, Lawrence Kemp, Michael Kenes, Drew King and Jeremy King. Second row from left to right: Richard Kreder, Thomas Landers, Jarrod Lehman, Martin Lewis and Brian Logan. Third row from left to right: Narciso Luna, David Martinez, John Martinez, Josh Martin and Terry Martin. Fourth row from left to right: Benjamin Matcek, Joseph Matthews, Wesley McAlister, Dustin McCann and Billy McRee. Fifth row from left to right: Rudy Mercado, Juventino Montellano, Michael Moore, Jason Moreno and John Moya. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left to right: Noe Adame, William Aikin, John Arnold, Ronald Atterbury and Colter Bajovich. Second row from left to right: Owen Bartlett, Jeff Battey, Michael Baxley, Timothy Bayless and Richard Benavides. Third row from left to right: Burton Bergman, Ronnie Bishop, Mitchell Bradford, Robert Bucy and Kenneth Carlisle. Fourth row from left to right: Aaron Carpenter, Christopher Carrizal, Jason Cavazos, Rene Cavazos and Nathan Champeau. Fifth row from left to right: Michael Chaney, Matthew Clendennen, Lindell Copeland, Greg Corrales and Roy Covey. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left to right: Eliodoro Munguia, Doss Murphy, Robert Nichols, Jeremy Ojeda and Joseph Ortiz. Second row from left to right: Anthony Palmer, Melvin Pattenaude, Julie Perkins, Daniel Pesina and Ares Poinix. Third row from left to right: Marcus Pilkington, Anders Ramirez, Kevin Rash, David Rasor and William Redding. Fourth row from left to right: Jacob Reese, Owen Reeves, Theron Rhoten, Kristoffer Rhyne and Robert Robertson. Fifth row from left to right: Craig Rodahl, Christopher Rogers, George Rogers, James Rosas and Gregory Salazar. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left to right: John Craft, Ryan Craft, Richard Dauley, Marco Dejong and Jason Dillard. Second row from left to right: Richard Donias, Christopher Eaton, Brian Eickenhorst, James Eney and Morgan English. Third row from left to right: William English, Nate Farish, Don Fowler, Justin Garcia and Lawrence Garcia. Fourth row from left to right: Lance Geneva, Nathan Grindstaff, Valdemar Guajardo, John Guerrero and Bryan Harper. Fifth row from left to right: Arley Harris, Raymond Hawes, Jarron Hernandez, Daniel Johnson and Edgar Kelleher. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This combination of booking photos provided by the McLennan County Sheriff's office shows people arrested during the motorcycle gang related shooting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Top row from left to right: Ester Weaver, Walter Weaver, Mark White, John Wiley and Jacob Wilson. Second row from left to right: John Wilson, Gregory Wingo, Michael Woods, Ricky Wycough and Gage Yarborough. Third row from left to right: Lawrence Yager, Matthew Yocum and Gilbert Zamora. (McLennan County Sheriff's Office via AP)
DEVELOPING: 9 dead and multiple injuries following a shooting at a restaurant in Waco, Texas http://t.co/HLMqbIyPXY http://t.co/o3dXIzP37b
WACO SHOOTING: -9 Dead -Several Arrested -3 Crime Scenes -Police Fear Retaliation MORE: http://t.co/RzvgzFUeIS … http://t.co/1Ij8pf8lzV
UPDATE: Nine reported dead in #Waco restaurant melee involving #motorcycle gangs http://t.co/8wm6eD224w http://t.co/U79eB50Obl
Anarchy in Waco. Nine dead in Twin Peaks biker shooting. #khou11 http://t.co/DsJtlcCpq4 Photo: @KCENNews http://t.co/mzoSKet8jH
BREAKING! Multiple FATALITIES from biker gang SHOOTOUT in Waco, Texas: Apparently there has been a sh... http://t.co/P3A5kIZSU7 #mcgnews
Multiple people dead in Waco after argument between rival biker gangs ends in shootout http://t.co/GmRrDr4g3z via Mashable
Nine dead, others injured in Waco biker brawl http://t.co/5zkVJX0BOP http://t.co/235iKhqUhY
9 dead in Waco, TX shooting. 3 rival biker gangs open fire against each other in parking lot. http://t.co/hVvPdpaOFt http://t.co/M7IqHQwNpN
BREAKING: 9 dead, others injured after shooting between rival biker gangs in Waco, TX>> http://t.co/8VQEjDDA6r http://t.co/cnPyYjtDY6
RT CBSNews "BREAKING: Several killed in shootout between rival biker gangs in Waco, Texas, police say - … http://t.co/9L9FeRsLKe"
9 dead in Texas restaurant shootout http://t.co/10EVfoFBTJ
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McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara and Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton declined to comment Tuesday on allegations that innocent bikers were arrested. Police have said the gathering of five biker groups was to resolve a dispute over turf.

Katie Rhoten said her husband, a mechanic from Austin, called her from jail and said that he and two other members of Vise Grip Club ducked and ran for cover as the violence that left 18 people injured raged around them.

Police said the melee started with a parking dispute and someone running over a gang member's foot, and that an uninvited biker group also appeared. Preliminary autopsy results indicated that all of the dead were shot, some in the head, neck or chest. Police have acknowledged firing on armed bikers, but it is not clear how many of the dead were shot by gang members and how many were shot by officers.

The arrested bikers have all been charged with engaging in organized crime and each is being held on $1 million bonds. It is unclear how long they will remain in custody.

"Unless they try to make some other arrangement to move them through it more quickly, it could be weeks and possibly months" before the jailed bikers have bond-reduction hearings, said William Smith, an attorney who has met with several of the inmates.

It's also unclear whether the McLennan County district attorney will require outside help to prosecute all those arrested Sunday.

The eight members of Theron Rhoten's group, the Vise Grip Club, specialize in building and riding vintage and antique motorcycles, particularly pre-1970 Harley Davidson big twin choppers, according to spokesman Brian Buscemi.

Buscemi disputed the police claim that the meeting was to resolve a turf war, saying groups had planned to discuss laws protecting motorcycle riders at the meeting, which he said has been going on bimonthly for 18 years.

"Yes, there was a problem at this scene, and it was absolutely horrific, but there just also happened to be a significant amount of people there who had nothing to do with it," Buscemi told the AP.

Jimmy Graves, who described himself as an ambassador for the gang known as the Bandidos, said his group had no intention of engaging in a scuffle.

But he acknowledged that differences with other groups, such as the Cossacks, have been "simmering and brewing."

The U.S. Justice Department said in a report on outlaw motorcycle gangs that the Bandidos "constitute a growing criminal threat." The report said the group is involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana and in the production and distribution of methamphetamine.

Another biker named Johnny Snyder also said he was at the restaurant for a scheduled meeting to talk about legislative issues.

Snyder, a long-haul trucker, declined to describe what he saw inside the restaurant, saying he was only concerned with "not getting shot."

He is vice president of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club in Waco, a group that Snyder says does charity events and family gatherings and is not a criminal gang.


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"Yes, there was a problem at this scene, and it was absolutely horrific, but there just also happened to be a significant amount of people there who had nothing to do with it," Buscemi told the AP.

Jimmy Graves, who described himself as an ambassador for the gang known as the Bandidos, said his group had no intention of engaging in a scuffle.

But he acknowledged that differences with other groups, such as the Cossacks, have been "simmering and brewing."

The U.S. Justice Department said in a report on outlaw motorcycle gangs that the Bandidos "constitute a growing criminal threat" in a report on outlaw motorcycle gangs. The report said the group is involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana and in the production and distribution of methamphetamine.

Another biker named Johnny Snyder also said he was at the restaurant for a scheduled meeting to talk about legislative issues.

Snyder, a long-haul trucker, declined to describe what he saw inside the restaurant, saying he was only concerned with "not getting shot."

He is vice president of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club in Waco, a group that Snyder says does charity events and family gatherings and is not a criminal gang.

___

Associated Press National Writer Allen G. Breed contributed to this report.

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