SPARKS, Nev. – The city canceled its part in an annual multicity motorcycle festival on Saturday, and neighboring Reno increased police patrol 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 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 when he was shot Saturday morning.
“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.”
Martini said he also pulled the plug on the live entertainment and other festivities in Sparks related to Street Vibrations, an annual weekendlong event that has drawn tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to the area for 18 years.
Festival organizers had said they expected up to 30,000 visitors to this year’s event, which began Thursday and was to run through today in Reno, Sparks and Virginia City.
The man who was injured during the drive-by shooting had been riding a motorcycle near the public square where the festival was anchored. Martini told the Reno Gazette-Journal that it “definitely” was a case of retaliation.