Hells Angel’s slaying prompts state of emergency in Nevada city

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The fatal shooting of a California Hells Angels leader during a casino melee with a rival gang Friday night has prompted the mayor of Sparks, Nev., to declare a state of emergency and cancel an annual motorcycle event, authorities said.

“The safety and security of the public is our No. 1 priority,” Mayor Geno Martini said in a statement Saturday.

No suspects have been arrested in the fatal shooting of Jeffrey Pettigrew, 51, president of the San Jose Chapter of the Hells Angels, and the shootings of two members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club during the brawl at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort, authorities said.


Leonard Ramirez, 45, was in stable condition at a hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and Diego Garcia, 28, was in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the leg, authorities said.

Hells Angels member Cesar Villagrana, 36, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a stolen firearm. “Villagrana was seen on videotape shooting into the crowd during the incident,” authorities said. “However, it cannot be confirmed at this time if any of the projectiles struck the victims identified.”

On Saturday, a motorcyclist was driving in the 100 block of East Victorian Avenue when someone in a car that had pulled alongside shot him in the stomach, authorities said. The victim, whose name was being withheld, was hospitalized in stable condition.

Witnesses told police they saw a black four-door 3 Series BMW with tinted windows and two occupants heading west on Victorian at a high speed immediately after this shooting.

Investigators were unable to definitively link the shootings in the city 15 miles east of Reno. Nonetheless, an increased demand for public safety coupled with a lack of police department resources moved law enforcement officials, city administrators and Nugget executives to shut down the 2011 Street Vibrations motorcycle event.

The Hells Angels and their archrivals, the Vagos, have their roots in California’s 1960s counterculture movement. Law enforcement officials say both biker gangs are criminal enterprises dealing in drugs and weapons, and they have clashed repeatedly over the years.