TYLER, Texas — Three people have been arrested in the shooting death of a motorcyclist in the Chapel Hill area, just east of Tyler, Texas, on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Police say the victim and all three suspects had ties to Cossacks MC groups.
33-year-old Brandon Edwards of Ben Wheeler, Texas, was traveling eastbound on FM 850 in the 16400 block in the Chapel Hill area on Saturday evening when he sustained at least one gunshot wound, causing him to crash his motorcycle onto the side of the road.
Edwards was pronounced deceased at the scene and investigators with the Smith County Sheriff's Office and the newly-formed Texas Anti-Gang Unit — East Texas began investigating the case as a homicide.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says investigation led to the execution of a search warrant in Longview, Texas, on Monday which subsequently led to the execution of two additional search warrants in Hewitt, Texas, and Waco, Texas, both in McLennan County, and the issuance of three murder warrants in the case.
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 30-year-old Jeffrey Ryan Griffin, of Hewitt, and 29-year-old Joshua Ray Tibbits, of Waco, were arrested in Waco. At approximately 4:15 p.m., on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, 31-year-old Jose Antonio Valenzuela, of Waco, was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 20 in Cisco, Texas.
Police say Valenzuela was believed to have been fleeing with his family due to the known arrests of Griffin and Tibbits.
All three were booked on murder charges into the Smith County Jail where they are being held on $2.5 million bonds.
Smith tells MyTexasDaily.com that Edwards, Griffin, Tibbits, and Valenzuela are all members of different Cossacks MC groups.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Edwards, at the time of his death, was wearing a jacket with patches indicating he was a member of the 1%er Cossacks MC Rose City Chapter. Griffin, Tibbits, and Valenzuela were allegedly members of the Original Ugly Man Chapter, according to the affidavit.
Anyone with additional information regarding this homicide is asked to call the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 566-6600.
"I continue to be amazed at the tenacity, cohesiveness and never quit attitude of all of these law enforcement entities that are working so well together," stated Smith. "No one is concerned with who gets the credit, only that justice is served."
"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," he said. "The TAG is already paying off big dividends."
The Texas Anti-Gang Unit — East Texas is made up of members from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler Police Department, Longview Police Department, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Kilgore Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety CID & Highway Patrol, Bureau of ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration, Smith & Gregg County District Attorney’s Offices, and Homeland Security Investigations.
Smith also credited the Smith County District Attorney's Office, Texas DPS CID, Longview Police Department, Waco Police Department, and the Hewitt Police Department for assistance with the search warrants in Longview, Hewitt, and Waco.