Texas county blocks road to prevent weekend biker rally

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PALO PINTO, Texas – In the wake of a biker gang brawl that left nine dead, one Texas community is taking steps to prevent a Memorial Day biker rally that has been held in the areas for the last 13 years.

Believing a planned Memorial Day rally by the Cossacks biker gang in a town southwest of the county could pose imminent danger following the May 17 shooting in Waco, Texas, the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office and County commissioners on Wednesday elected to close a section of a highway east of town to prevent the rally and keep any groups from coming into town.

The Cossacks had held successful rallies in Mingus, Texas, for 13 years, but a deadly shooting and brawl, involving law enforcement, the Cossacks, Bandidos, and five rival gangs, alerted law enforcement to the potential dangers of the rally, said Sheriff Ira Mercer.

Nine bikers died in the shooting, seven of whom were Cossack members; another 18 were injured. Police filed charges against 170 bikers in connection with the shootout.

The road closure will be from noon Friday to 6 p.m. Monday, said County Judge David Nicklas, but full-time residents will be able to pass through as needed, he said.

After contact with Cossack leaders, Mercer said the bikers would not hold their rally over the holiday weekend.

“I managed to talk to the local president of the Cossacks, who got in touch with the state representative of the Cossacks, who in turn got me in touch with the national vice president of the Cossacks,” Mercer said. “Once I talked to the national guy, everything started rolling, and we’ve gotten confirmation of cancellation of reservations, and there’s signage up in Mingus saying they’re not coming.

“We’ve gotten intel from Fort Worth, Erath County, Abilene, here locally, several different places, and they have sent out the word through social media showing that they’ve canceled it,” he added.

Mercer said before contacting the group, there was indication from law enforcement intelligence and contact with leaders of both the Cossacks and Bandidos that trouble might occur if the rally was held.

The Mineral Wells Index in Mineral Wells, Texas, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.