NATION

Biker on Waco bloodshed: 'When things went haywire, I found a safe place'

Biker who witnessed the Waco, Texas, shootout recalls the insanity

Long-haul trucker Johnny "Melon" Snyder of Waco cruised over to Twin Peaks on his electric blue Harley Road King on Sunday expecting to hang with a few of his brothers from the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club for an hour and a half before returning home to watch some recorded episodes of "American Crime" with his family of five.

Snyder, 42, also known as "Big John," is a biker straight out of central casting: shaved head, dark sleeves of tattoos traced across his massive biceps, standing 6 feet 8 and weighing 430 pounds. When he posted pictures of his bike, which he calls "my baby," on Facebook, friends would joke that next to him, it looked like a mini-bike or a scooter and would quip, "poor shocks."

Sometimes his wife dons matching Boozefighters biker gear and heads out with him. The club, despite its name, is a family affair, he said, full of working guys like him who raise money to help veterans, victims of child abuse and domestic violence.

As vice president of the Boozefighters, he attends quarterly meetings of the state Confederation of Clubs with a few of his buddies. They talk about legislative issues or host speakers, including lawyers as well as paramedics who teach them basic first aid.

"I figured it would be over by 3:30 and I'd be sitting back in my recliner watching TV," Snyder said.

He showed up well before the meeting was supposed to start at 1 p.m.

"The sad incident happened well before that," he said.

Police were already on scene shortly after noon when shots erupted, he said.

"When things went haywire, I found a safe place and lay down on the ground with my hands out, because I knew they would be there," Snyder said.

Snyder said he has friends on the Waco police force, having worked as a bouncer for 25 years.

"I'm a big guy - I know not to challenge the police," he said.

Snyder had no criticism of how police responded or their decision to open fire.

"The police were professional, considering the situation they were in. They were professional and doing their job," he said.

After the shooting, Snyder said he and other members of his club cooperated with police.

"We were not arrested. We were detained and questioned. Everyone on scene was detained and questioned. Some were sent home and some were not, and I don't know why," he said.

No members of his club were arrested, he said.

He declined to discuss details of the shooting, citing the pending police investigation.

His motorcycle is part of that investigation now, considered evidence, he said.

"Everybody has been told those bikes are part of the evidence because of anything that might have gotten on them," he said.

Snyder said that although he misses his one and only bike, "I support the law enforcement."

Late Tuesday he said he still had not heard the names of the nine people killed in the shooting. He wasn't sure who had been injured or jailed.

But one thing was certain: "All of my Boozefighters brothers made it out safely."

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