Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, a member of the Vagos motorcycle gang, allegedly shot Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew, president of the San Jose, Calif., chapter of the Hells Angels, four times in the back at Trader Dick’s bar inside the Nugget during an altercation between multiple members of the rival bike gangs.
According to police reports, Gonzalez was observed on casino surveillance footage carrying a handgun into the dance floor area of the bar. No other Vagos members are seen at that location at that time.
Pettigrew, after being observed punching and pistol-whipping Vagos members, is then seen falling to the ground, at which time Gonzalez is observed running from the scene while stuffing a gun into his waistband. Seven .40-caliber casings were recovered from the crime scene.
Gonzalez, who is said to reside in San Jose, Calif., was seen acting suspiciously inside a car in a neighborhood known for vehicle burglaries near the campus of the University of California, San Francisco at about 8:20 p.m. on Thursday.
Campus police Sgt. John Gutierrez made contact with Gonzalez and arrested him without incident.
Gonzalez is currently being held in a San Francisco jail until he faces an extradition hearing. No court date for that hearing has been set.
Sparks police detectives are in the Bay Area working the case with local law enforcement agencies. Detectives have spoken with Gonzalez but no details have been released.
Search warrants are being sought for Gonzalez’s property. No murder weapon has been obtained yet.
Gonzalez reportedly has a criminal record, but police provided no details.
The investigation is ongoing and surveillance footage of the shooting is not being released, police officials said.
“There could potentially be more individuals arrested at a later time,” said Sparks Det. Sgt. Greta Woyciehowsky.
An investigation into the Sept. 24 drive-by shooting of a Vagos member in Victorian Square is ongoing as well, and no links between the two shootings have been identified.
The only significant lead police have thus far is a vehicle description of a car seen fleeing the scene. The car is described as a dark-colored sedan, likely a BMW 3-series, possibly with tinted windows.
The shooting death of Pettigrew, and fears of retaliatory violence, prompted the cancellation of the Street Vibrations motorcycle rally at the Victorian Square venue and Mayor Geno Martini issued a state-of-emergency for the city.
Woyciehowsky indicated that local law enforcement agencies remain prepared for more violence between the biker gangs.
“Is it reasonable to assume that this may continue? Yes,” she said.
On Thursday, Cesar Villagrana, also a Vagos member, was arraigned in Sparks Justice Court on charges of assault with a deadly weapon for his involvement in the incident. He is being held in Washoe County Jail.