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Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez Accused Of Killing Hells Angels Gang Leader Jeffrey 'Jethro' Pettigrew

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SPARKS, Nev. — A motorcycle gang member shot a chapter president of the rival Hells Angels four times in the back before fleeing a Nevada casino where a shootout occurred last weekend, police said in court records unsealed Thursday.

Suspect Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, of San Jose, Calif., was named in a police affidavit as a member of the Vagos gang who killed 51-year-old Jeffery "Jethro" Pettigrew on Friday at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks.

Pettigrew was president of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels.

Security video shows Gonzalez approaching Pettigrew with a gun near a dance floor before casino patrons appeared to react to gunfire, Sparks police Detective John Patton said in the affidavit.

Pettigrew fell to the floor before Gonzalez put the gun in his waistband and fled, the affidavit said.

A search later turned up seven .40 caliber casings about 15 feet from the spot where Pettigrew was shot from behind, Patton said. Police earlier said Pettigrew had died from gunshot and stab wounds.

The whereabouts of Gonzalez was unknown.

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick believes the Hells Angels are looking for him, too. Gammick declined to provide any more information about the suspect but said he may not survive to stand trial in Reno if rival gang members find him before law officers.

"Think about it," Gammick told The Associated Press. "You shoot the Hells Angels president four times in the back ... What do you think is going to happen if the Hells Angels get their hands on him?"

Two Vagos members were wounded in the shootout and a third was shot in the stomach the next day by a gunman in a passing car a few blocks from the Nugget and the town square where the 18th annual Street Vibrations motorcycle festival was held on Friday and Saturday.

The mayor of Sparks canceled the event Saturday night and declared a state of emergency amid fears of more gang violence.

Police arrested Cesar Villagrana, 36, of Gilroy, Calif., who they said is a Hells Angels member who was with Pettigrew when he was shot.

Villagrana did not enter a plea at his arraignment Thursday in Sparks Justice Court on three felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon illegally and discharging a firearm within a structure.

His lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, declined comment on the case but called his client a good family man with no prior felonies who was caring for his ill mother and stepfather.

Judge Susan Deriso set a hearing for Oct. 5 to allow Schonfeld to argue for a reduction of his client's $500,000 cash-only bail. A preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 12.

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