Hells Angels leader dies in Sparks casino shooting


SPARKS -- The city canceled its part in an annual multi-city motorcycle festival on Saturday and neighboring Reno increased police patrols amid fears of retaliation over the shooting death of a prominent Hells Angels boss by a rival gang.

Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, the 51-year-old head of the motor­cycle gang's San Jose, Calif., chapter, was killed late Friday in a shootout that sent hotel guests and gamblers diving under tables at John Ascuaga's Nugget hotel-casino, police said.

Two members of the Vagos gang also were wounded.

The gunfight apparently sparked a retaliatory drive-by shooting several hours after the casino gunfire, prompting Mayor Geno Martini to declare a formal state of emergency. A motorcyclist was injured after he was shot Saturday morning.

Martini said he also pulled the plug on the live entertainment and other festivities in Sparks related to Street Vibrations, an annual weekend-long event that has drawn tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to the area for 18 years.

The man who was injured during the drive-by shooting had been riding a motorcycle near the public square where the festival was anchored.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Allen said investigators could not independently link the casino to the attack on the cyclist, which was carried out by a gunman in a black sedan with tinted windows.

But Martini told the Reno Gazette-Journal that it "definitely" was a case of retaliation.

"After the retaliation, it's just too tense of a situation," he said. "It's hard to say what's going to happen. It's just not worth the chance."

Security also was heightened at the Reno hospital where the two Vagos members were in stable condition. All doors were locked there, except the emergency entrance.

Allen said police arrested one Hells Angels member in connection with the casino shooting. He said officers made a number of other arrests but he provided no details.

Martini said he had been in contact with Gov. Brian Sandoval, who pledged support if the city needed more law enforcement resources.

Reno police said they were increasing patrols but continuing the festival there, including downtown concerts on the main casino drag where the streets were closed to traffic.

 

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