ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: bikers

Charges dropped in biker gang case

Get Adobe Flash player

SANDPOINT — A North Idaho county is dropping criminal gang-recruitment charges against five people following an Idaho Supreme Court decision making it more difficult to prove the law was broken.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank has moved to dismiss the charges against five people associated with the Hermanos Motorcycle Club, the Bonner County Daily Bee reports.

The Supreme Court upheld the recruitment law in January but said prosecutors would have to prove a person was drawn to a gang specifically to engage in criminal activity.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

July 5: Biker cites gender disorder at sentencing

Jan. 18, 2011: Sandpoint bikers indicted in Montana

Oct. 11, 2010: Biker gang arrested in Bonner County drug sweep

Nev. casino shooting kills Hells Angel

In this Friday, Sept. 23, photo, officers keep an eye on handcuffed men at the east entrance to John Ascuaga's Nugget after a shooting in Sparks, Nev. (AP Photo/The Reno Gazette-Journal)

By KEN RITTER,Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — 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.

“We don't want to sensationalize it. We don't want to influence the groups. We don't want to have something happen somewhere else,” Allen said in an interview. “A lot of the players are from out of the state and out of the region. If you look at it historically, there've been tensions between these two groups. But we're still looking at what exactly set off this specific incident.”

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.

Leonard Ramirez, 45, was hospitalized with an abdominal wound, and Diego Garcia, 28, was wounded in the leg, Allen said. Both men were reported to be in stable condition over the weekend at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno. A hospital spokesman said he could release no information about them Monday.

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.

It was not immediately clear if Villagrana had a lawyer.

Allen said Villagrana was seen on the videotape shooting into the crowd, but police found no immediate evidence that he wounded anyone.

“We were very fortunate that nobody else got hurt,” Allen said.

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.

Police said Shane Smith, 40, a Vagos member from California, was hospitalized in stable condition.

Allen said police weren't immediately able to connect the two shootings. He said investigators were looking for witnesses and a black BMW four-door sedan with tinted windows that pulled alongside Smith before he was shot.

___

Associated Press writer Terry Collins in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Cop killer attends biker bill signing?

Robert Christopher is possibly pictured fourth from left at the bill signing April 13.

OLYMPIA – One of the bikers gathered around the table as Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill outlawing “motorcycle profiling” may have been a member of an outlaw gang whose conviction for killing a Portland police officer in 1979 was overturned.

A photo of the bill-signing, first published in The Spokesman-Review, has law enforcement officials studying the faces and patches on some motorcyclists who applauded as the bill was signed, then posed with Gregoire and several legislators.

Read the rest of Jim Camden's story here.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here