With a Hells Angel dead in a northern Nevada casino shooting, two members of the rival Vagos motorcycle club wounded and a third hurt in a drive-by attack hours later, investigators were using video and witnesses Monday to identify who's responsible for the weekend violence.
One Hells Angels member was in jail, but no arrests have been made in Friday night's slaying of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew at John Ascuaga's Nugget, Deputy Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen said. Pettigrew, 51, was the president of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose, Calif., where he worked as a city heavy equipment operator.
Allen said Monday that casino surveillance video won't be made public until investigators complete the painstaking work of identifying about 60 Vagos and 12 Hells Angels amid a crowd of several hundred people gambling and partying. Members of the crowd suddenly dove for cover when gunfire disrupted the regional Street Vibrations motorcycle rally.
"In Arizona, more than two dozen members of the rival groups were arrested in August 2010 after a shootout left five people wounded in Chino Valley, north of Prescott.
In California, an annual organized crime report from the state attorney general calls longstanding tensions between the Hells Angels and the Vagos "particularly poignant." It cited instances in which the Hells Angels have forced Vagos out of chapters in Hells Angels hotspots.
San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer downplayed the possibility of retaliatory acts in the largest city of the San Francisco Bay area.
"We are not aware of any specific threat at this time," Dwyer said Monday. "We are not expecting any action here."
Allen said it appeared from the videos that the Sparks shooting was spontaneous and not the result of two groups entering the 1,600-room hotel and casino girded for battle.
One witness told the Reno Gazette-Journal that a man wearing Hells Angels insignia pulled a handgun and fired after being bloodied and knocked to the floor in a fistfight.
The shooting drew a heavy response from local, state and federal law enforcers, prompting the cancellation of the weekend rally in Sparks. The mayor declared a state of emergency.
Two men identified by police as Vagos motorcycle club members from California were wounded.
The only man arrested immediately after the shooting — Cesar Villagrana, 36, a Hells Angel member from California — was being held Monday on $500,000 bail at the Washoe County jail in Reno. He faces a court appearance on felony assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a stolen firearm charges.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini later linked a drive-by shooting Saturday morning that left a motorcyclist wounded to the deadly casino shooting less than 12 hours earlier.
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