A Hells Angels boss was killed in a shootout at the John Ascuaga’s Nugget hotel-casino resort in Sparks, Nevada. Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew died from gunfire as hotel guests and visitors ran for cover. Patrons dived under the tables and other furniture to avoid being shot.
Authorities said, in what was likely a retaliation for the death of a biker club boss, a drive-by shooting saw a fourth motorcyclist injured later in the night. The shootings prompted Mayor Geno Martini to declare a formal state of emergency. “We don’t want to alarm our residents,” he said. “The declaration merely provides some tools and tactics our city can and should use if it comes to that.”
“We don’t expect further violence, but we must be prepared,” he added. No one was killed in the drive-by incident.
Witnesses in the Nevada casino told authorities that the shootout occurred after a fistfight broke out amongst the San Jose club and Vagos members. Joe Franco, of Reno, said he saw a motorcycle gang member pull a pistol after getting punched in the face. “He was down with the bloody nose, gets up and pulls out the gun, and that’s the first shot,” Franco stated.
The members of the motorcycle gangs where in town due to the Street Vibrations festival held both in Sparks and nearby Reno. The week-end long event has drawn tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to the area for 18 years. The city of Sparks canceled its part in the festivities for the weekend after the shooting.
Nevada authorities are increasing patrols but continuing the festival there, including downtown concerts on the main casino drag where the streets were closed to traffic. They will request assistance from federal law enforcement if another shootout erupts over the Hells Angels boss who was killed.