From the time he was big enough to climb onto the back of his dad’s Harley, Jake Carrizal felt the pull of the open road.
The summer he was 9, he rode on the back of his dad’s bike to Mount Rushmore and then on to Sturgis, the annual Super Bowl of biker rallies, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
“He was on the back holding on tight. People would point and say ‘Oh, look how cute!’” recalled his dad, Chris Carrizal.
Along the way, Jake got his first look at the biggest, baddest bikers in all of Texas, the Bandidos: “Just seeing them riding down the road,” Jake said, “you knew: You don’t mess with these guys.”
Jake and his dad both became Bandidos. Chris Carrizal earned his patch in 2005, and Jake, 34 and a father of two, joined seven years later. He rose quickly to become vice president of the Dallas chapter, second in command to his uncle.
Jake was at a barbecue at his uncle’s when he got his Bandidos patch – a “fat Mexican,” they call it: a round-bellied, grinning caricature with a handlebar mustache and sombrero, wielding a pistol in one hand and a machete in the other (bikers are not known for political correctness). Jake was so moved he cried that night as he stitched the patch onto his jacket under the glow of a flashlight in the backyard.
“There’s a brotherhood, you know,” he said, explaining why he chose the life of a Bandidos biker. “It’s a good group of guys, and we like to do a lot of the same things – ride motorcycles and have fun.”
It’s been a year since Jake and his dad last rode together as Bandidos. May 17, 2015. Destination: Waco.
They were supposed to attend a regular meeting of a statewide umbrella organization called the Confederation of Clubs. The location was Twin Peaks, a biker-friendly, Hooters-style restaurant where cold beer is served by women in skimpy cutoff shorts.
When the first Bandidos arrived from the Dallas chapter, they found about 60 members of a smaller biker club – the Cossacks – waiting. The Cossacks aren’t confederation members, and as far as the Bandidos from Dallas were concerned, they hadn’t been invited.
Accounts vary over what got the fists – and the bullets – flying on a Sunday afternoon that would mark the most violent day in Texas biker history. Police suspected something was up; they’d installed cameras and stationed about 20 cops around the parking lot. But they stood back, keeping a low profile.
Was the beef over what patches the Cossacks could wear, as police had theorized? Did somebody at Twin Peaks run over a Cossack prospect’s foot, as some witnesses suggest? Was it over who owed dues to whom? Or was it just a dumb beef about parking spots?
Words were exchanged at first, then pushes, and then punches. Witnesses said somebody fired three shots. Other people pulled guns and all hell broke loose. It lasted less than two minutes and when it was over, nine bikers had been fatally shot and 18 were wounded, including Chris, who took a bullet in the shoulder.
Jake said he had been backing his midnight blue Harley into a parking space when the brawl blew up around him. Father and son lost each other in the confusion, and for a time each believed the other had been killed.
Nearly a year after the deadly melee, the Carrizals and half a dozen other bikers – both Bandidos and Cossacks – are speaking out. They agreed to appear on camera and talk for the first time about their clubs, their culture and the events in Waco. Bandidos leader Jeff Pike, known as “El Presidente,” also broke his long silence. He said he likes things quiet and never had a reason to speak out before Waco.
After 177 bikers were arrested, bail initially was set at $1 million each. Jake spent 23 days behind bars before his bail was lowered enough that he could post bond. He sold one of his bikes to come up with the required 10% in cash.