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One dead, several injured in weekend shootings
by Tribune Staff
Sep 24, 2011 | 8536 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sparks police officers stand guard outside the Nugget Saturday after two shootings forced the cancellation of the Street Vibrations motorcycle rally in Victorian Square. Tribune/John Byrne
Sparks police officers stand guard outside the Nugget Saturday after two shootings forced the cancellation of the Street Vibrations motorcycle rally in Victorian Square. Tribune/John Byrne
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SPARKS – In light of a shooting involving rival members of motorcycle clubs at a Sparks Casino Friday night that left one Hells Angels member dead, and a subsequent drive-by shooting on Victorian Avenue Saturday morning, the city has declared a state-of-emergency and canceled Street Vibrations at the Victorian Square venue.

"We don't want to alarm our residents," Mayor Geno Martini said during a 6 p.m. news conference Saturday. "A (state-of-emergency) declaration merely provides some tools and tactics our law enforcement can and should use if it comes to that level.

"We do not expect further," Martini added, "but we must be prepared."

The state-of-emergency allows the city to tap state resources and implement its emergency preparedness plans.

The last state-of-emergency in the city occurred about 5 years ago during a wind storm, Martini said.

The Sparks Police Department is working with local law enforcement agencies, including the Reno Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff's Office and the Northern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center to prevent retaliatory violence.

"We have agencies that are monitoring the roadways in and out of the region to monitor these (motorcycle) clubs," Deputy Chief Brian Allen said.

In addition, a mobile command center has been established in Victorian Square.

"The Sparks Police Department has increased both foot and mobile patrols in and around the downtown corridor," Allen said.

Street Vibrations in Sparks was canceled about 4 p.m. Saturday and vendors were seen packing up shortly thereafter, though police and city officials said there was no deadline for them to leave.

The state-of-emergency is open-ended.

As of press time, Street Vibrations venues in Reno and Virginia City are still open.

A hail of gunfire tore through Trader Dick's bar inside John Ascuaga's Nugget at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night, sending people inside running for their lives.

Jeffrey Pettigrew, president of the San Jose, Calif., chapter of the Hells Angels, was shot and killed during the incident.

Two members of the Vagos motorcycle gang were also shot.

Leonard Ramirez, a California resident, is reported in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Diego Garcia, also a California resident, is reported in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Neither individual has been arrested as of press time, and no one has yet been charged in the murder of Pettigrew. Police are reviewing casino surveillance tapes.

A second Hells Angels member, Cesar Villagrana of California, has been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a stolen firearm. Villagrana was seen on surveillance footage firing into the crowd at the Nugget.

Nugget COO Stephen Ascuaga said it was fortunate that no innocent bystanders were injured in the shooting.

A separate shooting occurred at about 10:49 a.m. Saturday along Victorian Avenue.

A motorcyclist, whose identity has not been released, was shot in the stomach after a car pulled alongside.

A black 4-door 3-series BMW with tinted windows and two occupants was seen speeding away from the scene. No link between the two shootings has been identified as of press time, police officials said.

The investigation into both incidents continues. Police said more updates would likely come Sunday morning.

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