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.
Rhoten's wife, Katie Rhoten, told The Associated Press that he 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."
Law enforcement officials 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 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 not said how many, or if any, were shot by officers at the scene.
It's not clear how long the bikers will remain in custody. They have all been charged with engaging in organized crime. They are each being held on $1 million bonds.
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.
Associated Press National Writer Allen G. Breed contributed to this report.