Here's the headline: 9 people were killed in a shoot-out involving what police describe as "criminal biker gangs." The shooting occurred about a quarter mile from our apartment. (See map, below)
We first heard about this incident while we were still at church. It occurred about 12:15 pm at the Twin Peaks Restaurant. We frequently walk past that restaurant on our exercise jaunts through the shopping center that's adjacent to our apartment. Only a few days ago Rean had lunch with friends at another restaurant that's only about 25 feet from yesterday's shooting incident.
When we tried to return home from church yesterday, police would not let us even enter the road that leads to our apartment. Because all of our identification is from Missouri, we could not prove we live here. So we drove to the home of some church friends. They had invited us to dinner this coming Wednesday. I borrowed their computer, drafted an invitation letter (with our Waco address on it), printed the letter, and asked them to sign it. That letter provided enough proof to the police that we were okay, and they let us come home. (It probably helped that we don't exactly look like troublemakers.)
At last report, 192 arrests were made. At least five gangs were involved. They had come to the restaurant to recruit new members, and the rival gangs got into a fight that started with fists and knives, then escalated to guns. Police knew about the possibility (probability?) of this, and were on high alert. A SWAT team, police, and sheriff's deputies were already on the scene when the shooting began. The bikers first started shooting at each other, then started shooting at the police. The police returned fire.
Our apartment is at The Retreat at Central Texas Marketplace (1, upper
left). Yesterday's shooting incident occurred at the Twin Peaks
Restaurant (2, lower right), only a short walk away.
Today, there is very heavy police presence all over Waco, especially downtown near the convention center and police station, and at the shopping center adjacent to our apartment. Police apparently have intelligence that gang members from other cities may be headed to Waco to make reprisal against the police and/or rival gangs. The police are assuring the public that law enforcement is ready for any contingency.
I contacted all the missionaries in our area and instructed them to return to their apartments as soon as possible and definitely not to be out after dark. I then called our mission president (90 miles to the north in the Fort Worth area) and told him about the situation. He then reinforced my instructions to the zone leaders. Today the missionaries are asked to avoid the downtown area as well as the part of town near our apartment where the shooting occurred. We are confident of their (and our) safety.
We are very impressed by the professionalism of all the law enforcement agencies that are working on this situation. And we are grateful for the miracle that no police or other innocent citizens were harmed in this terrible incident. There were hundreds of diners and shoppers in the immediate area, and not a single one was hurt.
We're sorry about the subject of this post, but we know many of you want assurance that we are safe. We are. Worry not.
Next time you may expect news more suited to a missionary blog.
Love to all.