Two local men among 3 bikers arrested in deadly shooting

Jeffrey Ryan Griffin (top left), Joshua Ray Tibbits (top right) and Jose Antonio Valenzuela (bottom center) were in the Smith County Jail Thursday. (Jail photos via KLTV)
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) Jeffrey Ryan Griffin, 30 of Hewitt and Joshua Ray Tibbits, 29, of Waco were in the Smith County Jail Thursday charged with murder in connection with a shooting on May 2 that left Brandon Edwards, 33, of Ben Wheeler, dead.

They were both arrested Wednesday evening in Waco, according to a Smith County Sheriff’s Office press release.

A third suspect, Jose Antonio Valenzuela, 31, of Longview, was arrested at around 4:15 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 20 in Cisco.

Their bonds were set at $2.5 million each.

Deputies who responded just before 5 p.m. on May 2 to a report of a motorcycle crash on FM 850 in Arp found Edwards dead of gunshot wounds.

Edwards was wearing a motorcycle club jacket that showed he was a member of the 1%er Cossacks Motorcycle Gang Rose City Chapter, an arrest warrant affidavit says.

Investigators recovered 9mm and .40-caliber shell casings at the scene, indicating there were multiple shooters, the affidavit says.

Other Cossacks interviewed at the scene said the only hostility toward the club to which Edwards belonged was from the Original Ugly Man Cossack club, the affidavit says.

The three suspects are members of the Original Ugly Man Cossack Club, the affidavit says.

Investigators, working with members of the newly-created Texas Anti-Gang Unit-East Texas, later tracked down surveillance footage that shows a Dodge Ram pickup truck traveling at high speed on FM 850.

Witnesses told them that “It was apparent that the motorcycle was being chased by the truck and that shortly afterward they heard multiple gunshots.”

The truck, investigators determined, matched one that belonged to Valenzuela.

“This is one of the more complex investigations in which we were able to join local law enforcement with the Texas Anti-Gang Unit since its inception,” Smith County Sheriff Larry R. Smith said.

On May 17, 2015 nine bikers were killed and more than 20 were injured as a result of what authorities say was a turf war between two rival biker gangs, the Cossacks and the Bandidos and the at the Twin Peaks restaurant at the Central Texas Marketplace in Waco.

A total of 177 bikers was arrested, but none was ever convicted of a single crime in connection with the shootout.

In April 2019 McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson dismissed the charges against the last of the bikers with criminal cases pending.