Twin Peaks sues to end Waco location's franchise agreement

Sgt. Patrick Swanton told media members that Sunday's violent attack could have been avoided if management at Twin Peaks would've listened to police.

WACO — The Dallas-based Twin Peaks franchisor has filed a lawsuit to revoke the franchise agreement of the Waco restaurant location, nearly two weeks after a deadly shootout took place there.

That lawsuit, filed May 27, seeks $100,000 in relief as well as "non-monetary relief." That number was determined May 20, prior to discovery, and the franchisor reserves the right to seek "appropriate" monetary relief after discovery, the lawsuit states.

The following was originally published May 18:

The site of the May 17 deadly brawl "will not open as a Twin Peaks restaurant" again due to its refusal to heed warnings of the likelihood of violence, a company spokesperson said.

The shootout that left nine people dead at the Waco Twin Peaks could have been prevented by management at that restaurant, according to Waco police.

Sgt. Patrick Swanton said Waco police knew before Sunday that there would be trouble at the restaurant and had 18 local police officers plus four DPS troopers at the scene before the fighting began. Waco police had attempted to work with management at the local Twin Peaks before, but the restaurant refused.

Police also contacted the restaurant chain's national office about their concerns.

Twin Peaks spokesman Rick Van Warner told News 8 the company then contacted the franchise owner and warned him. However, because the franchisee is the actual owner of the restaurant, they could not force him to do anything specific.

Twin Peaks national office confirmed May 18 that they immediately revoked the franchise agreement with the owner of the Waco location.

"Unfortunately the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants," said Twin Peaks spokesman Rick Van Warner in a statement. "We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are immediately revoking their franchise agreement. Our sympathies continue to be with the families of those who died and are very thankful no employees, guests, police officers or bystanders were hurt or injured."

Van Warner told News 8 that Twin Peaks location opened in August 2014 and that it will "not open again as a Twin Peaks restaurant." He said the restaurant chain was no "reviewing everything," including changing the language in the franchise agreements to give the national office more control in situations like the one with authorities in Waco.

Twin Peaks has also indefinitely suspended biker events at its 29 company-owned locations and recommended that the 39 franchisees do the same.

Sgt. Swanton reiterated the department's feeling in a Monday news conference, saying the local restaurant's statement - in which they said local police were their "partners" and that they were cooperating with the investigation - was a "complete fabrication."

He said police have been focusing on the restaurant for about two months and that local police had been in touch last week with Twin Peaks' national management after the local owners refused to cooperate with authorities.

"It's not a criminal charge not to listen to law enforcement," Swanton said regarding the restaurant's reluctance to help authorities, but he said the department will pursue any criminal charges they can related to the violence.

Swanton also said his department has been in contact with the TABC regarding the possibility of shutting the restaurant down.

"TABC is implementing a Summary Suspension closing Twin Peaks for at least 7 days," the Waco Police Department said on its Facebook page. "This is not a punitive action on TABC's part but done due to the ongoing danger it presents to our community. They are conducting a parallel investigation and further action may be forthcoming."

Swanton later explained that the TABC suspended the restaurant from alcohol sales for seven days, but that Twin Peaks location could still sell food. However, he asked the restaurant's management to remain closed out of respect for the victims of the violence and use the time as a "cooling-off period."

Nine people were killed and at least 18 more were injured in a melee involving guns, knives, clubs and other paraphernalia. 170 people were arrested for their part in the brawl, and all are being charged with participating in organized crime at this time. Those charges could be upgraded as the investigation continues.

Police earlier Monday said 192 people had been arrested, but updated that number as the morning went on.

READ: Nine dead, 18 injured in bloody Waco biker brawl

"What happened today could have been avoided if we would have had management at a local establishment listen to their police department and assist us," Swanton said. "They failed to do that, and this is the event that happened."

He said the biggest lesson coming out of Sunday's violence was for citizens to listen to warnings from police, "or bad things can happen."

Swanton said it was the most violent crime scene he had witnessed in his 34 years in law enforcement.

"That's what started this process today, was a bunch of criminal element bikers that came to Waco and tried to instill violence into our society, and unfortunately they did that," he said. Swanton also said members from up to five different bike gangs were involved.

The entire Central Texas Marketplace was shut down for safety reasons in the wake of the deadly shootout. A portion of the shopping center from Cabela's to Best Buy will remain closed Monday as police continue to process the crime scene.

"I would bet any business manager in here short of [management at the Twin Peaks location] would tell you that 'we are going to protect our customers,'" Swanton said. "They did the right thing and shut their businesses down."

Twin Peaks' local and corporate offices released statements in response to Waco police Sgt. Patrick Swanton's remarks that the restaurant's management could have prevented a deadly brawl that killed nine Sunday.

A statement from Jay Patel, the operations manager at the Waco location, referenced "positive communications" with police.

"We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today. We share in the community's trauma. Our priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our customers and employees, and we consider the police our partners in doing so. Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police and we will continue to work with them as we all want to keep violent crime out of our businesses and community. We will continue to cooperate with the police as they investigate this terrible crime."

Swanton said Sunday night that Patel's statement is "an absolute fabrication."

Twin Peaks' Dallas franchisor, which operates independently of the Waco location, also released a statement.

"We were shocked by the shootings that took place in the parking lot of our franchised restaurant in Waco and are fully reviewing all the circumstances surrounding it. We are thankful no employees, guests or police were injured in this senseless violence outside the restaurant, and our sympathies are with the families of those killed."

Police were monitoring the threat of more biker gangs arriving at the scene, Swanton said. He said there had been an "influx" of bikers into the city since the violence.

Swanton said that some biker groups had made threats directed at police, but that they "had a contingency" to deal with the threats.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement Monday, calling the shootout "lawlessness."

"Texas will not stand for the type of lawlessness we witnessed in Waco yesterday," Abbott said in the statement. "My office, along with law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels, is committed to providing any and all resources needed to support the Waco Police Department and the local community. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the first responders who put themselves in harm's way to protect innocent lives."'s Josh Davis contributed to this story.


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