Five stories that have North Texas talking: Many details of the May 2015 shootout remain unclear one year later; DART’s making changes to help cash-only passengers; Texas might designate a safe place for precious metals; and more.
Nine people were killed, 20 injured and 177 arrested as a result of a whirlwind shootout between the Bandidos Motorcycle Club and the Cossacks Motorcycle Club at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015. Although each person arrested was held on $1 million bond, only 157 were charged. And zero trial dates have been set.
A year later, what exactly happened that night remains unclear. Last month, “without much fanfare, the terms expired on a grand jury called to examine the evidence. It's not at all clear what will happen next – or when. The public's been in the dark largely because of a gag order that has kept virtually everyone involved in the story from talking to the media,” Texas Standard reported.
“The two biker groups have been around since the 1960s. An indictment filed in U.S. District Court in San Antonio calls the Bandidos ‘a highly organized criminal organization" and charges three of the group's leaders with "racketeering activity,’ including murder, drug trafficking and extortion. The Cossacks, the smaller of the two groups, have also been identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as an ‘emerging outlaw motorcycle gang.’ Both groups deny being gangs or being involved in illegal activities.”
Ed Lavandera, a CNN reporter, who’s also been working to piece the story together, told Texas Standard: “What has happened since then is something that has just completely baffled many people and angered many people. Many, many lives have been affected by what has happened and the way everything has been handled.” CNN aired a special report, “Biker Brawl: Inside the Texas Shootout,” on Monday night. [Texas Standard, NPR, CNN]
- A Fort Worth student dreams of going to a four-year university to pursue nursing, but family members want her to stay close to home. Kelli Bowdy, one of the North Texas students KERA has been following since eighth grade, has to make a decision. Her heart has been set on nursing for years, but where exactly she’s going after high school is still up in the air. “You have to grow up at some point,” she said. “So I want to get out on my own and get a feel of the real world.” KERA’s Bill Zeeble reported on Kelli’s dilemma in the latest story for “What’s Next For The Class of ‘17?” Explore the series. [KERA News]
- DART passengers without bank accounts or debit cards will be able to use smartphones and re-loadable, electronic fare cards next year. To help the "unbanked" population, Dallas Area Rapid Transit partnered with PayNearMe out of Silicon Valley to create a new system allowing cash-only passengers to simply their transportation experience. The new system won’t replace the GoPass smartphone app, The Dallas Morning News reported. “But the new system will allow people to go into participating retail locations — including 7-Eleven — and use cash to add value to new electronic fare cards or a GoPass account.” Passengers then would use the cards to pay their fares. Read more about the changes. [The Dallas Morning News]
- Texas could build a gold depository by the end of this year or early 2017. Plans for a precious metals depository have been in development since state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, asked lawmakers to create the facility last year, Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. “Under the new Texas law, the comptroller’s office is working to create the state’s first bullion depository — which could hold deposits of gold and other precious metals from financial institutions, cities, school districts, businesses, individuals and countries — at a location yet to be determined.” Currently, Texas pays about $1 million to store its gold in New York, the Star-Telegram reported. With an in-state depository, those fees could be turned into revenue for the state by charging storage fees. Read more. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department might ban the most popular method for catching rattlesnakes. That is, “spraying gasoline into their winter dens until the fumes flush them out,” NPR’s John Burnett reported. For three days in March, the town of Sweetwater, Texas has an annual rattlesnake roundup, in which they catch 4-5,000 pounds of the slithering creatures every year to sell for various uses. Researchers and biologists recommending the ban are concerned with the gassing method killing all invertebrates in near the path of the doomed rattlesnakes. Currently, 29 states ban the practice, but Texas plans to slowly implement changes because of the importance of tradition in Sweetwater. Read more. [NPR]