Three men charged in a Smith County fatal shooting are members of the Cossacks motorcycle club, according to police documents.
Brandon Edwards, 33, of Ben Wheeler was found shot to death May 2 in the 16400 block of FM 850 in New Chapel Hill.
Edwards, who was riding a motorcycle, was killed by people in a pursuing truck who fired multiple shots as both vehicles traveled at a high speed, according to the documents.
Jose Antonio Valenzuela, 31, of Longview, Jeffrey Ryan Griffin, 30, of Hewitt and Joshua Ray Tibbits, 29, of Waco are charged in Edwards’ murder and were held Saturday in the Smith County Jail on $2.5 million bond each, according to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers with the East Texas Anti-Gang Center became involved in the case because Edwards was wearing a jacket worn by members of the 1%er Cossacks Motorcycle Club Rose City Chapter. Police documents refer to the organization as “Cossacks Motorcycle Gang.”
Security footage shows a truck following Edwards’ motorcycle just before he was shot, and witnesses heard gunshots, according to police documents.
Working with information from an interview, detectives located a Facebook page connected to Valenzuela that showed a similar vehicle to the truck that was following Edwards.
After going to Valenzuela’s residence in Longview on Monday, detectives observed what looked like that truck traveling west on Interstate 20. Patrol deputies stopped the truck, and the driver, Valenzuela, and passengers were taken to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office for questioning.
In an interview with detectives, Valenzuela said he was a Cossacks club member for seven years and is the regional sergeant at arms. He said he keeps all of his chapters in check and makes sure they’re abiding by the “original Cossack way,” according to the police documents.
The documents say several members of the Original Cossacks Motorcycle Club — including Tibbits and Griffin — had been at Valenzuela’s home before the shooting.
Tibbits and Griffin were arrested Tuesday evening in Waco. Valenzuela was arrested Wednesday afternoon on I-20 in Cisco, and he is suspected of fleeing from law enforcement with his family after he found out Tibbits and Griffin were arrested, according to the sheriff’s office.
Detectives had driven to Waco on Tuesday to locate Tibbits and Griffin, who were believed to be with Valenzuela. The driver of a vehicle at Tibbits’ residence said Tibbits is a Cossacks regional sergeant at arms of the area, and Griffin is a sergeant at arms for the Limestone County Cossacks chapter. Tibbits said he and Griffin had to go to Longview to handle internal club business, according to police documents.
Griffin later told detectives that he and Tibbits had a party Saturday at Valenzuela’s house. When officers mentioned Edwards being chased and shot, Griffin asked to have an attorney present, the documents state.
Security footage shows one of the men in the truck that approached Edwards on his motorcycle had on a Cossacks Motorcycle Club T-shirt, according to the documents.
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