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Posts Tagged ‘Sparks’

Gary Stuart “Jabbers” Rudnick

UPDATE: June 4, 2014 – As part of a plea deal to testify against fellow Vagos, Nevada Judge Connie Steinheimer sentenced Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick to seven years in prison on August 21, 2013.   The ex-president of Vagos Nicaragua, Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison on October 3, 2013 with the possibility of parole after 20-years.

Between motorcycle manufactures, affinity groups, retailers, mechanics and aftermarket accessories, there is a wide support network of resources for our motorcycles.  More important is that many of us are looking for the same thing from the motorcycle community which means finding others who share similar interests, getting involved and contributing our time and resources to help others and the motorcycle community at large.

And speaking of motorcycle ambassadors of peace and spreading goodwill around the world…

Let’s talk Vagos and Hells Angels.  Recently, the Washoe County Grand Jury testimony was released and the proceedings outline the resulting indictments of three men accused in the shooting of  Jeffrey Pettigrew, the San Jose HAMC chapter president during Street Vibrations in September 2011 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks.  The grand jury was conducted by two Washoe County Deputy District Attorneys named Karl Hall and Amos Stege. The full transcript is about 60,000 words long.

No, I’m not moving the blog into the “True Crime” genre.  I’m re-publishing the testimony from Confidential Source #11-67 who was previously identified as former Vago Jacob Cancelli because it provides a disappointing look into the world of motorcycle clubs and some of their members.  Mr. Cancelli was one of the 14 witnesses who appeared before the Washoe County Grand Jury on November 9, 2011.  I have yet to received a copy of the Grand Jury transcript, but this information comes courtesy of the Aging Rebel blog and I want to provide a shout out on his deep coverage of the topic.

Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez (L)

As quick background; Vago Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez is accused of fatally shooting the HAMC president.  Hells Angel Cesar Villagrana is accused of shooting two other Vagos.  And Vagos Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick is charged with instigating the fight that led to the fatal shooting.

Here is a partial transcript from the Sparks Grand Jury testimony:

The Informer (Confidential Source #11-67; former Vago Jacob Cancelli)

Question (Q): Sir I am going to refer to you as Confidential Source 11-67, all right?

Answer (A): Yes….

Q. Are you familiar with the Vagos motorcycle club?

A. Yes. I have been a Vagos for twenty-seven years. I have been involved with Vagos for twenty-seven years. I moved up the ranks to a very high rank of Vagos within the last few months. Before this event took place, I was in the higher echelon, echelon, excuse me, of the club.

Q. Were you at the Nugget on the 23rd of September, 2011?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Are you familiar…I am showing you or behind you videoed surveillance tape that was captured from the Oyster Bar. It is Vagos-H.A. Oyster Bar two at about 22:13 hours or about 10:13 p.m. on that day. Do you recognize some of the individuals that are depicted in that video?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. I am going to play a little bit of that video. Are you familiar with Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. How are you familiar with him?

A. Through the club.

Q. You can identify him?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know Cesar Villagrana?

A. Yes.

Q. How do you know him?

A. Through the club.

Q. Through the club?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. How about Mr. Pettigrew, Jeffrey also known as Jethro Pettigrew?

A. Yes, I can identify him, too.

Q. Can you identify an individual by the name of Gary Stuart Rudnick?

A. What is his….

Q. “Jabbers?”

A. Yes.

Q. So “Jabbers” would be a nickname?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. Having been at the Nugget, were you over in the Oyster Bar on the night in question, the 23rd?

A. Yes.

Q. All right.

A. That is me right there.

Q. That would be you?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you familiar with what was going on that night?

A. Yes.

Q. Was there any tension between the Hells Angels motorcycle club and the Vagos motorcycle club?

A. Yes, there was.

Q. What was the nature of that tension?

A. What had happened is that, if I might go through this, may go through this, I got a call. I was by the east elevator bar over there.

We got a call there was a problem with the Hells Angels. So when we got that call, we moved towards the area of the Oyster Bar, and at that time, when I went to the Oyster Bar in this corner here, the corner…Is this the Oyster Bar here?

Q. Yes?

A. That’s the back bar, right?

Q. So it bears over on the left-hand corner.

A. Okay. Right here where you see this little area here, it is a little box. There is an opening behind it. Rght there is where “Jabbers” was at, at the time when I first came up, and Pettigrew.

Q. What was going on between “Jabbers” or Mr. Rudnick and Mr. Pettigrew?

A. Well, when I walked up, there was a lot of Vagos that were around.

And I took a look over there, and they both came out, and “Jabbers”

was very upset. And he just kept on talking, kept on talking, kept on talking. And he kept taunting Pettigrew. What he was saying was the likes of, “I don’t know you. You don’t have a right to touch me. What are you doing?” You know. “I don’t even need to talk to you,” things of that nature, really pushing on top of him. Pettigrew’s response back to him was, “Hey, man, you know, I was just having a good time. I just want to have a beer,”

basically. He wasn’t in no shape or form upset at that time. Top Hat, who is this gentleman right here, is a twenty-year what you call a Nomad for a member. I have known Top Hat for twenty-six years. He was there when we get to that point to talk in conversation with Pettigrew. What had happened is that we were talking to Pettigrew. He was cool. He was just saying, “Hey man, everything is good. I have no problem.” “Jabbers” comes up and “Jabbers” then starts taunting him.

You know, “You had no right touching me.” What he meant by “touching”, he just tapped him on the back, basically. You know, what my insinuation was, he tapped him on the back. He said, “Hey, do you want to have a beer?” “Jabbers” took it as an offensive thing, pushed out his chest because, of course, there was a lot more Vagos than there were Hells Angels. So he kept on taunting. He wouldn’t stop. So I told him, I said, “Listen, shut the fuck up.” Excuse my French, but I have to tell you the way it went. I said, “Shut the fuck up. Get the fuck out of here.” He backed up for a minute, then he come back again. I said, “I told you to leave.” He says, “Hey, hey, don’t worry.” I said, “I told you to leave.” Now me, in my position, he has to listen to me.

So what happens is that Pettigrew and I are talking. He comes back up again, and then Pettigrew looks at him. I am going to call him Jethro.

Jethro looks at him and he says to Jethro, “You know I don’t know why you had to touch me.” He says, you know, “Just talk to me.” He said, “I don’t need to talk to you,” this and this, whatever. Jethro lost it. He got pissed off.

Q. Jethro Pettigrew is mad at “Jabbers” or Rudnick?

A For taunting him, taunting him, taunting him. He finally just said, “Listen, I don’t need to fucking talk to you no more.” He turned around and walked away.

Q. We have that depicted on the video. Let’s see, Mr. Rudnick also known as “Jabbers” and so we are at 22:13:40?

A. We are looking at him right now.

Q. Can I ask you to back up so we can see? I have a pointer right here. We can kind of identify people. Now this individual at the bottom left-hand corner?

A. Gonzales.

Q. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez?

A. Yes.

Q. Is he associated…How would be he associated with Mr. Rudnick or “Jabbers”?

A. He would be associated just as a brother, but he’s an underling because “Jabbers” is a V.P., Vice President. So at any moment, if “Jabbers” was to ask him for assistance to back him up, he would do it. So Mr. Gonzalez is basically the backup to Mr. Rudnick because Rudnick is a Vice President in the Vagos. “Jabbers,” yes, and here is Pettigrew right there. That is him. All he’s doing, he’s just trying, shaking people’s hand, saying hello. That is his MO, tapping, say hello, whatever. This is when I come over, because “Jabbers” is having serious issues. So this is Top Hat, Gonzalez, they call him Romeo, that is his nickname. There is “Jabbers” right there. So I go over there. I am talking to him for a minute, and I told him…and here is this guy that was backing him up. This is the guy that says I won’t leave my Vice President. He’s an L.A. charter. This is Bret from South Bay, South Bay member. I think that is Bret right there from South Bay.

Q. Did you go over and talk to Pettigrew?

A. Yes. This is Pettigrew right here, Hells Angels President. I am over there talking to him. And this is Crusher, his name is Leo Ramirez. He’s one of the guys that got shot.

Q. Leonard Ramirez, the person that got shot in the stomach?

A. Yes, he did. He watches over me. That was his job. And I am talking to Top Hat here. And what we were trying to do is make everything at ease right here, settle everybody, to back them off. We don’t want nobody in there.

Q. You were trying to diffuse the situation, avoid an altercation?

A. One hundred percent. See there, I am on the phone. I am trying to get in touch with some of the top, top, National members so I could tell them what is going on before this thing turns into a problem.

Q. Now were there a lot of Vagos meeting at the Nugget that weekend?

A. Yes.

Q. Had there been a meeting earlier that day at the Nugget?

A. Yes. We had a meeting at 8:00 o’clock in the West towers.

Q. Approximately how many Vagos members attended that meeting?

A. Over five hundred. There was a Vagos members meeting. Right afterward, there was a Prospect meeting. Then right after that, there was a Nomad meeting. Nomad, which means there is gentlemen Vagos in the club that have been in the club twenty years or over. And there was a Nomad force there. They had the third meeting. After this meeting took place and everything, we remained downstairs again.

Q. All right. We can still see Mr. Gonzales in the bottom right-hand corner, Mr. Rudnick or “Jabbers” there kind of in the middle, I think that would be.

A. There is “Jabbers” talking to Top Hat. That is his wife. Top Hat is trying to talk to him, but “Jabbers” is not paying attention. He’s just getting more and more frustrated. See by Top Hat’s demeanor when he’s talking to him, basically telling him he has to back up, just relax. Can we go back for a moment, please?

Q. Yes. I am getting there. Bear with me. It is more.

A. That’s it right there.

Q. We’ll get there.

A. There I am. I have got everybody for the back.  That is Bob. He is the Vice President of the San Jose Hells Angels. I went up to Bob. I was talking to him, and he said, “Everything is going to be all right.” He says, “I am getting too old for this.” I said, “I am getting to old for this, too.” We shook each other hands.  A lot of people around didn’t like what was going on. But I talked to his Hang-around. I am talking to the guy. Now Top Hat goes back.

Everybody is a little bit tight. And there is “Jabbers” right there.

Q. Rudnick went back over to where Pettigrew was?

A. Yes. I go back in. I am getting angry. I told him already to go. When I go…Leo’s name is Crusher, the Vagos name we call him.

Q. Leonard, Leo, Crusher, they are all the same….

A. Yes.

Q. …guy?

A. Crusher, Leo, is right here. He has to watch me. I am telling him to leave.

Q. You are telling “Jabbers” to leave?

A. He’s trying to tell him, “What is going on? Don’t touch me.” He’s, “Listen, I was just playing around.” So him, Top Hat and I are telling “Jabbers”, I put my hand on “Jabber,” said, “back off.” I said, “Get out of here.” Basically just leave. I am telling him. That is his essay.

Q. What happened after that? Did Mr. Rudnick, “Jabbers”, say anything about the situation?

A. Yeah. What happened is that “Jabbers” kept taunting him.

Q. Taunting Pettigrew?

A. Taunting Pettigrew. What happened is Pettigrew then got angry and he says, “I don’t need to talk to you no more,” basically. And he walks away. So I tell everybody to walk out. “Jabbers” and Top Hat sit right here at the video, and “Jabbers” is drunk, and he tells Top Hat, he says, “Why are Nomads always getting involved with our business?”

Nomads are, the Nomad Vagos are Vagos. We are all one. But still, they are there to help out. Nomads are there to help out, and each one of the charters of the Vagos, for any type of encouragement if someone has a problem, whatever. They can come into any meeting they want to at any time to hear what is going on within the structure of each charter. He give Top Hat, he has a beard, a full beard, and he says, “You got this much time, because I made a call to the guys. They were still upstairs, the National members. This is the International Vice President, Secretary, Sergeant at Arms, all the way upstairs talking.

What I then did was made a call to the National President and he didn’t answer the phone. I then called the National President Nomads, Rocky, and we talked and he says, “Come up here immediately.” I walked. Then he says, Top Hat, I am right next to Top Hat, “If you guys don’t get down here, something’s going to happen.”

Q. What did he mean by that?

A. It is going to get it on, move without anybody’s, you know, permission or anything.

Q. When you say get it on, Vagos are going to fight with Hells Angels?

A. One hundred percent. So I got pissed off at him. Right at that point, being who I am, I could have smacked him in the mouth, knocked him out, but I didn’t choose to do that. I went upstairs, because this is a big deal going on here. When I went upstairs, I talked to Dragonman and Dragonman and Rocky are up there. We are talking about the situation, what happened. I told him Jabbers is drunk. I told him that, you know, he was taunting the guy. And I told him it is going to turn into a real bad thing real quick, because us and Hells Angels don’t get along too well at all because of past history. So what they did is they formed their little group. They came downstairs. They walked around. They came back down to the bar where no one was allowed. All Vagos were backing up at that time. They went into the bar. Pettigrew was there, Jethro, and they talked to Jethro and they talked to Bobby V and everything was diffused. They said everything’s cool. Jethro says he didn’t want no issues. There is no problems. They said, okay, everything is fine. There is no problems here. Everything is cool. The problem is, when you have a lot of people, when you have over five hundred people from a particular organization, you can’t get the word out to everybody at one time. That is the problem. So they came walking back. And I don’t know if you want to go through that area.

Q. Well, we’ll get to that area. But before I get there, can I talk a little bit about the organization of the Vagos organization?

A. Absolutely.

Q. All right. So can you tell us about how the organization is structured? You talked about the hierarchy, the upper echelon?

A. How it is structured is that you have a panel that are called International who are what you call the top of the whole Green Nation Vagos Motorcycle Club. It starts with the International President, then goes International Vice President, International Secretary, International Sergeant at Arms, International Road Captain.

Q. What are their duties? What are they charged with, those different people?

A. Road Captain is on the road. He basically takes over the pack or the charter, whoever is on the road with him. The International Road Captain, at all times you have to obey what he has to say when you are on the road with the Road Captain, because it is the road. What happens is, when he takes a pack anywhere, whether it is to Vegas, Reno, whatever, everybody has to follow his direction. He controls it on the freeway. Sergeant at Arms, when you are off the bikes and you are out and about, Sergeant of Arms position is to make sure that nobody, absolutely nobody guests hurt, has any problems. I am talking Vagos members. Okay. Each Vagos charter has the same type of set up.

You have your President, you have your Vice President, you have your Secretary, you have your Sergeant at Arms, and you have your Raod Captain. Now each one of them have to follow pretty much the same direction. So the International President, he runs the club. The International Vice President assists him in running the club. He’s like what you call a concierge, tells him, delegates certain things to him, what he thinks he should do. The Secretary takes care of, you know, the books, Bylaws, things of that nature. At the end, the Secretary combines everything and puts it together. The Sergeant at Arms, his position is to protect the President, International President at all times, at all cost no matter what it is. Okay. If the International President was here at the time, the first thing was to protect him from all members, because it read that way in the Bylaws.

In the Bylaws it says that, number one, start off with the International President. At all times the International President is to be respected under any circumstances, wartime or whatever, wherever he’s at. That is the way it runs and that is the way it operates.

Q. Is respect an important part of the Vagos creed and the Vagos code?

A. Absolutely. Right underneath that part of the Bylaws there is a thing call PBTs. The PBTs are…The PBTs are in essence underneath the International President. They are what you call a higher king of the whole club. Anyone that disrespects them faces serious, serious consequences. Anybody from any chapter, say for instance there is a Riverside chapter. Say for instance there is an L.A. chapter. Say for instance members of the L.A. chapter come up to the President of the other chapter and says words to him, he reports that to the President, and then he could take care of it the way he wants to. Or this President takes care of it the way he thinks is peaceable. They talk about it. They come to a remedy. Most of the time, most of the time when disrespect gets out of order, they don’t call the patch no more.

They became Prospect again. Sometimes they get a beating. So if the guy has been around a long time, what they will do is Prospect him.

Now how it operates, to become a Vagos member, you have got to hang around first. It is called Hang-around. From Hang-around, if we feel everything is good and you are a good person to come into the club, we feel you could do the right thing within the club, from that standpoint it goes from Hang-around to Prospect. When you became a Prospect, the minimum amount of time for Prospects are six months minimum amount of time. It depends on your actions. It depends how you are. But even though you are a Prospect for one charter, because there is a lot of charters of the Vagos, illustration, for instance southern California, Rivera, if there was a Prospect for southern California Rivera that belongs to me or belongs to another individual, at that time, that Prospect then not only belongs to me but has to have the respect of all and everybody until such time as he earns the patch. So wherever he has to travel, wherever he has to go, whatever he has to do, he does as a Prospect to earn that patch.

Q. So for example if you have prospects that made the trip up to Reno, what would they be tasked to do or told to do?

A. Well, that is when you had the second meeting with the prospects. And the prospects are usually told, I wasn’t at the Prospect meeting, but have respect, shake everybody’s hand, get to meet everybody, say hello. But in any situation, when a situation like that happened, you will see in this video there is a Prospect that is walking through, and they will up the command of their sponsor, move into a battle if they are told to, because if they don’t, they are gone.

Q. Do Vagos typically carry a weapon?

A. There is a lot of Vagos that carry weapons.

Q. Is that part — Is everybody required to carry weapons or is it just your own personal choice?

A. Well, it is basically personal choice. You are not required to carry a weapon. Most of the time, probably ninety-six percent of the club carries a knife, a pretty long knife, a knife that could create damage.

Q. What about guns?

A. Yes, they carry guns.

Q. Are they an outlaw gang?

A. Yes.

Q. Are they involved in criminal activity?

A. Absolutely.

Q. What kind of criminal activity would that include?

A. Murder, rape, robbery, drugs, all types.

Q. Now we were talking about the patch. What is it? Is there a symbol that the Vagos have?

A. Well, laymen’s term, there are two parts of the Vagos. I mean a pack of guys riding into the wind, motorcycle gypsies. The Loki on the back the thing that looks like the demon, it is called a Norse God of Mischief. And those are, it is a very mythological term. It means, for instance, super natural. It means germantic mythology. It means neo-paganism. It means to slaughter. There is a lot of meanings to the Loki. That is basically it. If you took any time and looked, you could see for yourself what it means. It comes out of mythology, not from here but from Germany, from the Netherlands and some EEC countries.

Q. All right. I was just, if you could look behind you, I have displayed a jacket. So when we are talking about the patch, full patch member, is this the patch I am pointing to with the Loki?

A. Yeah. This right here is the Vagos patch. This is the rocker that represents where you are from.

Q. Did somebody say something?

A. This is their flags, and this is the beginning of when you became a member of the Vagos motorcycle club. This patch is not on your back at first when you are a Prospect. When you are done prospecting, that patch is given to you and you have to sew that patch on. Then you take it somewhere to get it sewed on.

Q. All right now before we kind of digress into the Vagos and discussed the Vagos and hierarchy, I had a couple other questions about that. Do the Vagos have, each chapter, have regular meetings?

A. Yes. They are called church.

Q. And what do you discuss at church?

A. Church, usually it is pretty much a lot of the same things, but most of the stuff at the church that is going on is the Bylaws, the Bylaws of the Vagos way of living. To make sure they understand those Bylaws.

Everything in the Bylaws has to do with the National with the Presidents, with the members, with prospects and Vagos old ladies, their thinking of that nature. He’s laughing over there. I am going to tell you, you are going to like this, the thing about the Vagos ladies that has changed is that Vagos old ladies like to ride bikes, so they can’t ride bikes in the pack with the guys. What they have to do, they have their own Vagos lady patch that says she’s the property of such and such a member. Say for instance Leo, his wife has a rocker on her patch that says Vagos old lady belonging to Crusher, property of Crusher which means that is his property. No one can go near, disrespect or whatever. But if she wants to ride a bike and get on the bike, the rules change. If we are going out in the pack, say we are going up to, you know, coming here to Reno in a pack, she wants to ride a bike, she has to ride in the back of the pack, just like any guest or anybody of that nature. A Hang-around, the same thing.

Prospects ride in the back also. Only members ride in the front, back then there is prospects then the Vagos old ladies.

Q. Now Mr. Rudnick, what was his rank?

A. “Jabbers”?

Q. “Jabbers”?

A. Please, if you call him “Jabbers”.

Q. We’ll go with “Jabbers.” I am sorry. Rudnick, “Jabbers.”

A. He is Vice President of the Los Angeles Vagos.

Q. So would that be the higher echelon?

A. He’s the second in command of his charter.

Q. Are there people under him that are required to protect him and stand behind him and back him up in case of an altercation?

A. Absolutely. His whole charter, his Sergeant of Arms, depending on Campos. Campos was it. He holds rank. So you have to make sure he’s all right. By the same token, make sure the Vice President is okay.

They split it. Usually they will have one. Sometimes Vagos charters or chapters they will have two Sergeants of Arm in their charters. A lot of them have two. One follows the president, one follows the Vice President. So, yes, they do watch them to make sure he’s okay. Being he’s in that position, all Vagos members, who are not…who are not officers of the club, if he needs assistance, they have to assist him no matter if they are at another charter. He don’t have to ask nobody at a time when something like this goes on, pull him off to do something.

Q. All right. Now I am going to go to camera number 45.

A. Okay. This is the guy right here.

Q. There is “Jabbers” there. No, that is not “Jabbers”, excuse me, this is Garcia?

A. Yeah.

Q. Diego?

A. Diego, yes.

Q. Do you know who these women are?

A. Yeah. That is the International Secretary’s old lady, I think her name is Patty, and that is her sister.

Q. Are they associated with the Vagos?

A. They are Vagos. Lori is definitely a Vagos old lady. These are just friends of hers.

Q. Do you know what charter Diego Garcia is associated with?

A. San Jose.

Q. Now did you see Diego Garcia that evening?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you notice whether or not he had any injuries?

A. Yes. He was shot in the right leg. There is Gonzales. Romeo. That is Little Dave right there. Now he’s here. He comes over to have a discussion. This is the Sergeant at Arms for South Bay. This is Justin. He’s a Prospect. When you see his back, you will see a patch.

This gentleman is from Lake County. I think his name is Mike or Mark.

I can’t remember. You have to, even though you are in a club for a long time, there is some people in a club, there is not just a couple hundred, you know, there is over thousands of people in the club now.

Right there is “Jabbers.” Right there. He’s putting on his gloves. He’s talking to him. The reason why he’s putting on his gloves, for one reason only, is that it is a premeditated thing. They are going to start some action. This thing is going to go off. And they already have talked to each other, and he told him and he put on his gloves, because they are ready to get down with the people that will come into the picture here shortly. See his gloves going on?

Q. Are these Hells Angels?

A. These are Hells Angels.

Q. Walking past him?

A. And there is some prospects and Hang-arounds that are moving forward. Mind you, this was diffused by National. This is Bobby V, the Vice President, and this is Pettigrew. Now this is “Jabbers”.

Q. When you say it was diffused, you were talking about forty minutes earlier when they were at the Oyster Bar?

A. Absolutely. When the National members went down and talked to them, everything was worked out. It was diffused. There was no problems.

Q. Do you know Pettigrew or Jethro?

A Yes.

Q. What is his rank?

A President of San Jose Hells Angels.

Q. Is that significant?

A. In Hells Angels world, absolutely. He’s one of probably top five or six on the council of Hells Angels.

Q. So he’s an important person in the Hells Angels organization?

A. One of the most important guys in the United States.

Q. All right. So do you know whether or not the Hells Angels motorcycle club is similar to the Vagos motorcycle club in terms of the hierarchy and the code of conduct in terms of protecting the President, respect?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. Very similar?

A. One hundred percent. The only difference between the Hells Angels and only difference between the Vagos is that each charter or chapter of the Hells Angels are all separately incorporated. Vagos are under one cooperate-type entity. The Hells Angels, it is a very, actually it is a smart move on their behalf. The reason why, it has to do with, you know, conspiracy factors and what is the other?

Q. Aiding and abetting, Rico?

A. Rico. Thank you so much. Rico and things of that nature. So if someone does something in this chapter here, that is incorporated, Hells Angels San Jose, San Francisco is not responsible. Oakland is not responsible for that particular situation. That is how it was formed by them. Sonny Barger forged that a while back.

Q. 23:25.

A. We see the gloves on Diego. What he does, you just saw him, he taps him saying, hey, you know, seems like he’s saying no problem. But this guy right here, “Jabbers”, has a big mouth. He’s always had a big mouth. This guy is going to grab on to him, because he probably sees him taunting again.

Q. Would taunting and provoking….

A. Yes.

Q. …be similar?

A. Absolutely.

Q. To pick a fight?

A. Yeah. He’s again in his face. Pettigrew as you saw was walking by.

He called him over.

Q. Would that be disrespectful?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. After what had happened earlier at the Oyster Bar to call him over?

A. Absolutely. As far as today is concerned with “Jabbers”, he’s no longer in the Vagos motorcycle club. He’s been kicked out, okay? And because of the problems he’s done which is going to create a lot of problems for him.

Q. I don’t want to digress. I am on a limited time. Let’s just, I want to bring your attention to one thing, though that would maybe be indicative of preparation for battle, and that was one thing that we already discussed was the fact Diego Garcia put some gloves on. Based upon your experience with the club, that would be preparation for battle?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. The other thing where we have Romeo.

A. Romeo, yeah he’s taking off.

Q. He has a drink?

A. He comes over, drops off his drink which means he’s getting prepared. This is the President of San Jose.

Q. Now he’s freeing up his hands?

A. There. He’s right there.

Q. Vagos there. Here is a Hells Angels that gets hit. Over here you can see Pettigrew and Bobby V getting attacked from the rear?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Would that be, based upon your view of this, a concerted effort?

A. One hundred percent.

Q. Of the Vagos? All right.

A. But it works on both ends because….

Q. Pettigrew threw the first punch?

A. It started from that point, things going to happen. Pettigrew could have said to him as well, hey, listen things has been diffused. I talked to your National members. Everything is okay. It didn’t happen.  This is the outcome. That is Leo Ramirez right there. He was shot. He was shot in the stomach. And he shot Diego in the leg and Gonzalez, Romeo, disappeared back here.

Q. Would it be fair to say in modern terms parlance a challenge to fight was issued and accepted in this particular case?

A. Absolutely. There is Pettigrew.

Q. Now where were you in relation when all this was going down? Where were you?

A. I was blown to some tables. When I came down the aisle, everything started to happen. We took a right turn. Right to the left, Pettigrew was right in the middle. He was in the fight. The Vagos were crushing him. Leo went inside. Gunshots went off. Leo went left, went out, got shot in the stomach. All hell broke loose, just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, you know. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, numerous amount of shots were happening. I ran straight. I told everybody to hit the deck, everybody. There is people still on the tables, people on machines.

Finally, everybody…actually rammed into the tables, and there is a lady delivering some drinks. I ran into the table. She fell down. I hit my hand. I just wanted to get everybody down. When gunfire is going off, anyone can get hit. I am surprised that a citizen didn’t get shot in the event. Because anyone could have walked out of any corner anywhere. You could have walked out of the bathroom and got shot.

Q. There was one other individual that I wanted to ask you if you knew who he was.

A. There is Gonzales there.

Q. I guess I can ask in simple terms, do you know who shot Leonard Ramirez or Leo?

A. Yes, him.

Q. This fellow right here?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know what his name is?

A. God, I can’t believe it. I lost my train of thought on him. Cesar.

Q. Cesar Villagrana?

A. Yes. Sorry.

Q. That is all right. We can see this fight here. Are there other altercations going on?

A. Bobby V gets hit. He hit him in the head with the gun. Lake County Vagos. There is a fight down over here.

Q. He’s going to get hit again. You see him go down right there?

A. Yup. Because that happens. That is when he walks in, all the fight starts happening over here.

Q. There is the shooting?

A. Yeah, bam. But then there was so many shots going on right now.  There is shots going on through this whole melee that is happening here.

Q. Did you see any Vagos with guns?

A. Here?

Q. Well….

A. No.

Q. While you were there?

A. No, I didn’t see guns. They were all tucked away. But I am sure there were plenty of guns there.

Q. So then I was going to go to camera 5.

A. These are Vagos old ladies. One is “Jabbers” wife here.

Q. Would there be a reason they would be standing over here as opposed to standing over there with their husband?

A. The husbands told them to move over here, because something was going to take place.

Q. The altercation we just witnessed on camera 45 would be happening at the top of the screen?

A. Absolutely.

Q. They are kind of back here?

A. Because they were told to go there.

Q. Would that be indicative of a prior plan to engage in mutual combat?

A. Absolutely. Absolutely. They are watching the whole time. As you can see, although people here, some people here, any moment any of them could have been shot, been killed innocently.

Q. Here is 88.

A. That is me, and Pettigrew is in here now with the fight. Then the bullets. You will see me run through here. Bullets go off.

Q. Pettigrew in camera 5 at 23:26:20. There is a number of Vagos he’s confronting?

A. Yes. Leo comes in here, takes a left. He would be right over here.

Takes a right. He is throwing something at the guy with the gun. I don’t know, maybe it is his karate background, who knows. But at that time, he gets shot, but then the shooting is pretty repetitive. It happened, you hear the first round of shooting go off, one, two seconds; next sound of shooting go off, one, two seconds; next round of shooting goes off. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. And to me it sounded like there were thirty rounds go off. It is not out of the question for the members, after they shoot their guns or whatever, to pick up the bullets as the evidence and take it with them. Everybody is hitting the ground.

Q. That looks like another Hells Angels getting chased by some Vagos there.

A. Yeah. He ran through here. I think that is Lunch Box right there.

Q. All right. Then camera 3. So this would be just to the left of Trader Dicks looking at the bathrooms?

A. Yeah. That is the bathroom. That is the men’s. Women’s over there.

Q. We need to kind of move ahead a little.

A. There I am right there.

Q. Okay. So that you are heading towards the altercation?

A. Absolutely. You see the punch. You see, I mean you see the punch right there, bam when he hit “Jabbers” in the face, then all the melee took place.

Q. Ducking and running, is that consistent with the beginning of people running for cover?

A. Absolutely. You know, it is a Friday night. There is a lot of people at the casino. Everybody is just minding their business playing, you know, their game, playing their poker, playing their game. And this is like a pretty heavy thing to happen.

Q. Here we see an H.A.?

A. Yeah.

Q. He gets attacked by more Vagos down here?

A. Yes, he does.

Q. That is a group of Vagos attacking the Hells Angels?

A. Absolutely. Actually, some women in the women’s bathroom.

Q. So right there is that where you see Pettigrew come down?

A. Yes.

Q. That is where Pettigrew….

A. Gets shot.

Q. That is where he gets shot, right there?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. Okay.

A. He gets shot four times in the back.

Q. So then here is camera 7, and that surveillance camera captures the front of Rosie’s Cafe which, again, is just left of the bathroom. I guess that would be south of the bathroom. I am going to go ahead.

A. There I am right there. I just came out of the bathroom with Crusher.

Q. Ramirez was with you?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. He went down where the fight was. That is where he got shot?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Diego Garcia putting on the gloves. He gets shot?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. Then Pettigrew gets shot?

A. And he dies.

Q. So that series of events I just relayed, is that consistent with the video and your recollection of the events of that evening?

A. Yes.

Q. Basically, was that a result of the challenge to fight issued by “Jabbers” to Pettigrew?

A. Absolutely. One hundred percent.

Q. All right. Thank you.

MR. HALL: I have no further questions.

THE FOREMAN: Do we have any questions for the witness?

A GRAND JUROR: I have a question.

THE WITNESS: Yes.

A GRAND JUROR: Do you know who actually fired the shots at Mr.

Pettigrew and hit him with the bullets?

THE WITNESS: Yeah, Gonzales.

A GRAND JUROR: I don’t know if you can answer this. Is he just following the code at that point, Gonzales, do you think?

THE WITNESS: When a situation like this happens, it is Vagos Forever, Forever Vagos. Whatever happens at that time, the way the Vagos organization feels, when you get into situations is to protect. And “Jabbers”, he is a Vice President. That is how it started. So the thing was the guy who was the shooter and Diego, they are related.  They are family, okay? So the chapter that was started, when you saw the cut, the jacket with the Vagos Nicaragua and San Jose are all cousins. Gonzalez and Diego are cousins. They are the ones who helped start that whole charter down there. And they are building the chapter very rapidly down there right now. So to your answer, it is a thing that happens, and it is a protective mode to go in because of the guns and the shooting of the other Vagos individuals that got shot first by the Hells Angels automatically puts them into the mode to shoot one of them.

BY MR. HALL:

Q. I was going to ask a question. You mentioned San Jose and the fact the Vagos are expanding rapidly in the San Jose area, Nicaragua area.

The Vagos were expanding in the San Jose area?

A. They were.

Q. Had that caused some problems with the Hells Angels?

A. Yes. Hells Angels didn’t want them there. The Hlls Angels in northern California are very big. The Hells Angels felt the Vagos were coming into their territory. It is like you have a home. You have an acre of land. That is your land. They have been there for some years.

They claim that territory. Like taking a house and putting it on the corner of your lot. That is the way they feel about it in laymen’s terms. This is our house. Just don’t move into our territory. It is going to create problems. Well, it has been creating problems forever.

A lot of people…this is not the first incident that this has happened.

This has been building up, building up. Big Mike, Lake County got beat merciless in a casino. But he was the one who was provoking the Hells Angels over there telling them they were scum bags, they are pigs, all these things. They came and beat his ass. There was another Vagos with him named Chris from Lake County who was a Secretary. They didn’t touch him because he wasn’t a big mouth. So with all that said, then you have the incident in Bakersfield. I don’t know if you know about the incident in Bakersfield. An 18 year old young man was stabbed right through his body by Diego who was a Hells Angels.

Q. The victim was a Vagos?

A. Victim was a Vagos. His father brought him in. He was an 18 year old kid. Now that was also provoked by the Vagos motorcycle club. He said go up in, a 18 year old young man who was getting patched. The Bylaws, an 18 year old is not suppose to come into this club. For some reason his father, being in the position he was, their rules were changed a little bit. But the kid was killed, and he was stabbed twice in the back. So the man went on trial, but it got self-defense on the Hells Angels. They walked away. But Vagos provoked it. They provoked that one, too. Lied about it at first. It was provoked. So then the point being, there has been some ongoing animosity and problems between the Vagos and Hell Angels. Arizona. This is all stuff that just happened within the last, you know, year and a half, two years. Arizona there was a pack going to a party. Hells Angels came out, six guys shooting on the Vagos on the bikes, shooting on them. They weren’t very good shots, I hate to say. When the Vagos came up on them, they shot three of their guys. You know, one was critical. This is a situation that is ongoing. And because of this particular event and, you know, Pettigrew.

Q. We can probably leave it there I am sure as far as this case goes.

A. Okay. Yes?

A. GRAND JUROR: How long is someone in the higher hierarchy? If you are a Vice President, is it a year term, four years, until they vote you out?

THE WITNESS: You can stay there. You are pretty much there as long as you want to be. There is a vote that happens, but most of the time in the vote, people don’t like to be in an officer position because an officer position is the one that gets hit the most, you know, from all sanctions, whether it be National or law enforcement. They go after a lot of the hierarchy, you know, the Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries, all that. So in order to become, you know, an officer in a club, you have got to really think hard in order to do that. But, yes, he could be there for a very long time. But if the time period comes, he could became a Nomad and do what he wants to do.

THE FOREMAN: Do we have any other questions? Sir, the proceedings before the Grand Jury are secret. You may not disclose evidence presented to the Grand Jury, any event occurring or statement made in the presence of the Grand Jury, any information obtained by the Grand Jury or the result of the investigation being made by the Grand Jury.  However, you may disclose the above information to the District Attorney for use in the performance of his duties. You may also disclose your knowledge concerning the proceedings when directed by a court in connection with judicial proceeding or when otherwise permitted by the court to your own attorney. The obligation of secrecy applies until the Court allows the matter to become public record. A gross misdemeanor and contempt of court may be pursued if your obligation of secrecy is not followed. Do you understand?

THE WITNESS: I understand.

THE FOREMAN: Thank you.

THE WITNESS: Thank you.

(Witness excused.)

Photos courtesy of Scott Sonner/AP

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Virginia Street during Street Vibrations – Note LEO’s on Parking Garage

Gas prices were higher than in the movie, but Reno always takes advantage of special events that go on through-out the summer and none of them are bigger than Street Vibrations which brings in motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world.

This year was no exception as the warmer than normal riding weather meant tens of thousands of people turned out for the 18th annual event and they were looking to spend their money!

Over the last 11+ years I think I’ve missed the Street Vibrations Rally only once.  The event typically marks the last long ride of the season for our posse.  The rain and cold winter weather will quickly kick in and last for several months limiting trips to the few dry riding days.  I’ve seen the event evolve over the years.  Some of the changes were not well received (see HERE) to say the least.  In 2010 there was club-on-club taunting during the day on the Virginia Street sidewalks (see HERE).  And then last year someone “pee’d in the pool” so’s to speak with that Sparks shootout.

Now for the first time ever visitors are not allowed to wear patches.  In fact, Roadshows Inc., the event managers for Street Vibrations, has a provision in its “Exhibit Space Contract” for this rally that “No club colors may be worn or sold in vendor booths.”   This is similar to the Laughlin River Run riot ten years ago and the changes implemented there after the biker club brawl.  And just as I predicted last year the Street Vibrations Rally is now a ‘No Colors’ event and will be going forward.

Carson City Harley-Davidson

For those of you new to the blog…the  ban on motorcycle club insignia was the result of the shootout between members of the Vagos and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino in Sparks.  Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew, the President of the San Jose charter of the HAMC died of wounds he suffered in the fight.  The Vagos, Leonard Ramirez and Diego Garcia were also shot. Two others, Vago Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez and Hells Angel Cesar Villagrana are awaiting trial for participating in the fight. Gonzalez is accused of killing Pettigrew and Villagrana is accused of shooting Ramirez and Garcia.  It’s been reported that former Vago Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick, actually started the fight with Pettigrew and he has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution of Gonzalez and Villagrana and is now free.

But, the above carnage is old news.

This year there was a noticeable increase in law enforcement presence in and around the various venues for Street Vibrations. The “no colors” policy and signage were highly visible and hotel security was clearly beefed up.  I visited left money in several of the casinos and observed a few club members wearing “soft” colors in a couple of the casinos, but it was fairly limited.  One item most noticeably missing at this year’s motorcycle newly labeled “family friendly event”… was the typical large contingent (30+) of HAMC members bristling and posturing in and around the Silver Legacy Casino bar at the foot of the antique mining rig set.

Street Vibrations is the second largest motorcycle rally in the west.  It’s the fourth largest event in the nation and includes activities in multiple locations in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada.  And as you might expect with any large motorcycle gathering it increases the opportunity for accidents and other issues to occur.  And there were plenty.

Street Scene at Street Vibrations 2012

There were fewer crashes, but more than twice the number of arrests than last year.  For 2012 there was a total of 65 crashes investigated in the greater Reno-Sparks area. Of the 65 crashes, 25 resulted in some type of reported injury and the remaining 40 were reported as property damage only. These numbers are down from last year’s 84 crashes with 49 property and 35 injury.  However, this year there were 54 motorists arrested during the Rally period with 27 motorists arrested for DUI and the other 26 related to warrants, misdemeanor or felony arrest. These numbers were up from last year’s 23 arrests which were 16 for DUI and 7 related to warrants, misdemeanor or felony arrests.  There was one motorcycle fatality crash on Plumb Lane Sunday morning that reportedly was the result of a truck running a red light.  The 2011 stats HERE and 2010 stats are HERE.

I want to provide a big shout-out to Richard Tapia, the Carson City Harley-Davidson dealership owner.  The “Carson Event” in my viewpoint is really setting the tone and direction of where the event is heading as part of the area-wide Street Vibrations motorcycle festival.  There were more of the big vendors like you’ll find in Sturgis along with the big vendor trailers in Carson City.  Not to mention a bunch of activities aimed to wow the crowds.  Yes, the HAMC were very visible as part of the Cathouse Run, but so were the employees of the Cason City Sheriff’s office who were selling support your “black & white” t-shirts in a vendor booth in the parking lot.

Downtown Reno (Virginia Street) was a disappointment for me when compared to the Carson City event.  There were only a couple of what I’d consider to be tier-1 vendors on Virginia Street like Corbin Seats.  It was great to meet/chat with Mike Corbin.  Other than the food stalls many of the vendors were on par with a motorcycle parts swap meet.  Sparks was a lot better, but Carson City was top notch.  However, staying in downtown hotels at the greatly exaggerated prices means were paying for proximity and access.

The lack of high-quality vendors on Virginia Street might be a ploy driven by the casinos to keep people on the gambling tables, but in my view if the quality level of Virginia Street vendors don’t greatly improve folks (including me) will migrate out of downtown and this will become the Carson City Rally!

Photos taken by author.

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Pumpkin Festival

I previously blogged about Street Vibrations and the club-on-club shooting in Sparks, NV last month at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino which left dead the HAMC San Jose Chapter President (Jeffrey Pettigrew).

We now have the first documented incident of how the HAMC and Vagos violence has provoked a response from law enforcement in Manteca, CA which is about 75 miles east of San Francisco.

It happened at a Pumpkin Festival in “the family city.”  Yes a Pumpkin Festival.  Two members of the Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Ministry were asked to leave the street fair by the Manteca Police because they were wearing their motorcycle vest with ministry patches on the back. They were told it was due to the shooting in Sparks, NV.

Keep in mind that the Christian Motorcycle Ministry is a non-profit ministry.  Not a street gang, or are they really even a motorcycle club.   Their purpose is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the biker world, a section of society,  that many have chosen not to associate with. The ministry has been operating for 21 years without problems.

Isn’t profiling against the law?  The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Cohen vs. California, 403 U.S.15 (1971) that individuals have the constitutional right under the First Amendment to wear clothing which displays writings or designs. In addition, the right of an individual to have freedom of association has long been recognized and protected by the Courts.

What’s next?  I suppose, motorcyclists will be asked to leave events because they are wearing a H.O.G. emblem on a vest or people wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt or one from their favorite Sons of Anarchy television show. I find this whole situation discouraging.

Photo taken by author in Hood River.

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Graham Nash (of CSN&Y fame) wrote “Teach Your Children”, “Lady Of The Island” and “Right Between The Eyes” in ONE night.  He was on tour with the Hollies, was frustrated and sick of making pop music.  He wanted to write songs with meanings…and these three came out.

All we’ve got is time and I don’t want to waste yours.  But, you see Graham had a passion.  Maybe it’s a baby boomer thing.  Encouraged by their parents.  They were the first generation who could be something more.

Speaking of “Teach Your Children”… I rode down to Reno for the Street Vibration motorcycle rally.  The good news;  there were no deaths in the 84 crashes investigated by Nevada Highway Patrol.  There were 23 arrests made during the 5-day Street Vibration motorcycle rally with a total of 1,396 traffic enforcement stops.

The bad news; and one that all motorcycle enthusiasts should care about was the motorcycle club-on-club casino shooting at John Ascuaga’s Nugget which left one person dead (Jeffrey  “Jethro” Pettigrew, HAMC President (San Jose Chapter)) and two members of the Vagos MC (Leonard Ramirez & Diego Garcia) injured in the hospital.  I wasn’t there during the Friday night shooting because Randy Burke of Roadshow Productions really pulled out all the stops to make this year the best-of-the-best and I was in downtown Reno enjoying everything that Street Vibrations had to offer.  You see, last year was a rather dismal affair which I coined as “Street Frustrations” so, props to Randy… this year had all the markings to be a really great event.   Except for that little brazen and almost “drug cartel” style casino shooting.  Police reports indicate there were about 60 Vagos and a dozen HAMC on the casino video tapes.  It’s reminiscent of the Laughlin River Run melee of a few years ago between the HAMC and the Mongols MC.  There was one arrest of a HAMC member, Cesar Villagrana on a suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon charge. [Note: The incident in Nevada isn’t Villagrana’s first run-in with the law. Following a March 17 collision in Aptos, CA. – for which Villagrana was found to be at fault – he made Santa Cruz headlines when the California Highway Patrol discovered the Gilroy Hells Angel was carrying an unregistered Beretta handgun. The discovery of the weapon came after Villagrana collided his 2002 Harley Davidson with a Honda and Toyota on Soquel Drive near State Park Drive in Aptos, according to CHP Spokeswoman Sarah Jackson.  The Associated Press reports state Villagrana has been out of custody, and pleaded not guilty in May to charges of carrying a loaded gun not registered to him and being an active Hells Angels gang member. Source HERE]

Police Block Off Victorian Square

And I predict just like Laughlin, Street Vibrations will now forever be changed.  First will be the citizen calls to cancel the event.  But, capitalism will prevail and a change will occur under the broad brush of security and the need for an “abundance of caution” to tamp down or avoid any possibility of club violence.  Higher tax payer costs associated with security.  Higher hotel fees for attendees to cover the increased cost of security.  Higher vendor fees to cover security costs.  They city will implement a NO COLORS rule and it will go into effect.  Wrist bands to enter the hotel lobby.  Wrist bands and hotel keys to enter elevators.  Long waits to exit the hotel parking garages due to security validation of rider/owner to motorcycle.  Random road blocks and searches.  SWAT, Counterterrorism Unit and Gang Enforcement Teams will have a presence reminiscent of a military-dictator bent on keeping power.  You watch. It will be costly to the average rider.

Vendor Booths at Carson City H-D

Club business is none of my business, but when the public is exposed to an increase in the number of individuals who are willing to carry and fire guns indiscriminately around a public casino are we to just ignore the incident and continue on with breakfast plans and t-shirt buying as if it didn’t happen?  And where was the law enforcement intelligence?  And isn’t the casino security somewhat at fault?  Didn’t they get a clue when a dozen HAMC arrived at the Vagos base-camp that a fight might break out?

And then there are the financial ramifications.  This year in Reno, Virginia Street had about 55 vendors which was limited by the Reno City recreation officials for security reasons.  The majority, about 120 vendors were in Sparks.  And as you can image the vendors spend a lot of money for hotels, permits, food and gas to set up for Street Vibrations.  The biggest day of sales are typically Saturday, however, after the previous night’s shooting the Sparks mayor declared a state of emergency (to get and receive additional police enforcement resources as well as enforce a curfew) and then after a retaliation shooting Saturday morning of a Vagos MC member (Shane Smith) who was walking on Victorian Avenue they made the decision to closed down the event, including all vendor booths in Victorian Square.  What was surely a difficult business decision in light of the economic circumstances, but none the less many riders thought was good one considering the real or perceived retaliation rumors swirling around the area.

LEO Presence Post HAMC/VAGOS Shooting

It’s not clear if Street Vibrations can survive.  For Roadshow Inc., the event production company, it has to be the most important weekend/event of the year.  In fact, I’m not sure how or if Reno can ever shake off all the tragedies and grief it’s endured recently.  It was just about a week ago when 11 people were killed at the Reno Air Races and about two weeks before that there were 5 people randomly shot at an IHOP in Carson City.  Add to those tragedies the Amtrak crash in June where 5 people were killed and it makes you wonder.

And before you start with the comments… I want to acknowledge that the acts of a couple motorcycle clubs do NOT represent a majority of the motorcycle enthusiasts that go to Street Vibrations every year.  I get it.

The frustration is that the incident murder (let’s call it what it was!) is another confirmation for an uninformed public that results in a “guilt by association” and one more piece of my freedom is likely to be taken away…

We need to teach the children to be something more!  My sincere condolences to Mr. Pettigrew’s family.

Reference: The Nugget shooting case number is 11-8996.

UPDATE: September 28, 2012 — Vagos MC attorney, Joe Yanny states in a phone interview that no Vagos member fired a gun.  He goes on to state that the “social club” has a zero tolerance policy of criminal activity.  Listen to the interview HERE and how the club is apologetic for the negative consequences.

UPDATE: October 7, 2011 — According to this report, or this video report, Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, of San Jose, CA., was taken into custody last week by police in San Fransisco. He was on the University of California SF campus.  Gonzalez was being held in San Fransisco until police from Sparks, Nevada, arrive on the scene to question him.  Police believe that Gonzalez, who is an allegedly a member of the Vagos gang, shot Pettigrew four times in the back. The evidence against Gonzalez came from surveillance photos taken of Gonzalez inside the casino, which matched photos the California Highway Patrol took of Reno-bound motorcycle gang members in the hours leading up to the casino shooting.

UPDATE: June 4, 2014 – As part of a plea deal to testify against fellow Vagos, Nevada Judge Connie Steinheimer sentenced Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick to seven years in prison on August 21, 2013.   Rudnick testified that the murder was ordered by Vagos Motorcycle Club President Pastor “Tata” Palafox in front of 200 witnesses and Gonzalez volunteered to murder Pettigrew at that meeting.  Vago Ernesto Manuel “Romeo” Gonzalez was reportedly the ex-president of Vagos Nicaragua, and was sentenced to life in prison on October 3, 2013 with the possibility of parole after 20-years.

Photos taken by author and courtesy of RGJ.com

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Starting in 1994 with only 1,500 bikers participating, Street Vibrations has grown into the nation’s 6th largest bike event.  It was estimated (no info supplied on how) that slightly more than 25,000 motorcycles attended Street Vibrations in 2010.  About the same as previous years, however, hotels like the Peppermill, Grand Sierra Resort, the Nugget and Atlantis all reported shorter stays for guests on average vs. other years.

During the event period there was an increase in motorcycle accidents.  It’s unclear if the increase was attributable to the split-event in Sparks which many riders complained about.  Here is how the stats break down:

Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) arrested 39 people of which 21 were DUI arrests.  There were 15 accidents investigated, which included 2 fatal crashes, including one with a motorcycle.  In total there were 8 injury crashes and 5 crashes involving property damage only.  NHP didn’t report which arrests involved only motorcycles.

Reno Police reported making 72 arrests for various offenses stating alcohol was a factor in most.  They handed out 533 traffic citations and placed 4 people in civil protective custody (public intoxication).  They also handed out an additional 428 traffic warnings.  There were 6 stolen motorcycles (which the Pepper Mill Casino seemed to be hit most often) and 10 stolen tour packs (saddle bags).

Stealing saddle bags? That is just down-right mean! I hope they set up sting operations in the future to take down the jerks.

In addition, there was a brawl reported between 30 people (unknown if it was bikers?) that left one man stabbed in Sparks and was sent to the hospital.  The Carson City man was treated with multiple stab wounds which were non-life threatening.

Speaking of large groups… it’s unclear if related to last month’s HAMC and Vagos MC shootout in Arizona (Chino Valley, north of Prescott) where 27 people were booked on charges ranging from attempted murder to participation in a criminal street gang and where more than 50 rounds were fired between the two clubs… but, there was an extraordinarily large mass of the “Green Machine”, and the “Red & White” along with support clubs like the “Miscreants” on the corner of 4th and Virginia Street on Saturday.  I was on the street at the time and the atmosphere was most tense, it looked as if a confrontation would explode similar to scene’s from the problem-oriented “Hot August Nights” event.  Even the few LEO’s looked somewhat threatened.  Fortunately no confrontation occurred and within a half-hour the groups had mostly cleared out.

And speaking of the Reno police, they worked a lot of overtime and were paid based on a grant called “Joining Forces”.  The “Joining Forces” grant program is one of the many Nevada Office of Traffic Safety’s proactive safety initiatives coordinated directly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide grant funding for special enforcement campaigns, education, equipment and training throughout the calendar year.  There are currently 28 law enforcement agencies in Nevada that participate in this program. Some of those enforcement campaigns include DUI saturation patrols and checkpoints, speed enforcement, traffic signal enforcement at identified high-accident intersections, and crosswalk & pedestrian safety enforcement initiatives.

Lastly, is my rant about the fact that Nevada has over 49,000 miles of road and nothing is more treacherous than the I-80 and U.S. 395 interchange (known by locals as the “Spaghetti Bowl”) in downtown Reno.  Motorcyclists have seen at least 2 years of congested traffic flow from this construction project, but more important is trying to navigate through or ride over and avoid the deep crevices and cracks in the concrete.  It’s dangerous for motorcycles and get it done already!

Stat sources: Daily Sparks Tribune #1#2News 4Carson Now.

Photo’s taken at the event.

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Street Vibrations 2010 - Thin crowds at the split event!

Formally known as Street Vibrations…

As thousands of motorcycles descended into Reno, NV for the annual Street Vibrations motorcycle rally they were met with what will be surely known as the motorcycle rally debacle of 2010!

Our posse arrived on Thursday (23rd) afternoon.  Checked in to the hotel and walked out on to the street to take in some of the action.

WAIT.  Where are the vendor booths?  Why are cars traveling on so many of the side streets?  Where is every one?  Why are people standing around doing NOTHING on Virginia Street?  We walked three blocks and someone remarked how we’ve yet to see any law enforcement patrols?  WTF?

Sparks Victorian Square - Thin crowds at the split event.

Street Vibrations is the fourth largest motorcycle rally in the country, but you wouldn’t have known that by observing the thin crowds on Virginia Street.  Crowds that mostly wandered around wondering what to do.  It turns out that the information released earlier about vendors being expanded into Sparks really meant — ALL of the vendors were moved to the Sparks Victorian Square this year.  Only the convention center contained vendor booths.  With the exception of a handful of food vendors and a couple official t-shirt booths ALL OTHERS where moved to Sparks.

On Friday we headed to Sparks to check out the vendor booths in Victorian Square.  The traffic control folks were sending everyone into a dead-end parking area.  There were 25-30 bikes at a time getting jammed up with little room to maneuver or turn around creating a blockage that overflowed onto the street.  Dumb.  We finally got parked and walked around.  The feel of the area was nice, clean and open, but the crowds were thin.  Sure you could drink, but are you going to when you’ve got to get back on the motorcycle and ride to your hotel?  Not likely.  Whose idea was it to promote drinking and driving?  Where were the shuttle buses?  Dumb.  And while it’s true they expanded a number of vendors, I don’t know about you… I didn’t go to a motorcycle event to look at scented candles!   The Simms, Kuryakyn, Performance Machines, Mustang Seats and Metzler booths were well attended, but most others were fairly spotty.

Street Vibrations 2010 Event Map -- Split event booths at Sparks/Reno

I met/talked with several vendors in both locations as well as some attendees to get their reactions.  NONE liked the set up.  Not one!  I ask casino employees/pit bosses and they all balked at the setup.  The local Reno H-D dealer attendance was much lower than previous years.  People had front row parking available in the dealer parking lot.  Unheard of in previous years.  H-D employees had NOTHING good to say about the new arrangement.

I received a mixed bag of finger pointing.  The first reason was about how the Reno Police were greedy in what they wanted to charge for crowd control.  The cost couldn’t be passed on to the vendors so, the events producer decided to move it to a lower cost area (i.e. Sparks).  Then we heard that the event had become too big.  We heard that the city council was trying to “Get Back The Streets”… meaning that the days of blocking off streets from residents and creating traffic jams for locals were over.  We also heard that there wasn’t enough parking for motorcycles and then I heard that it was the bikers fault because they wanted to park/drive on Virginia Street… blah, blah, blah.  It seemed like reason de jour.

I’m somewhat convinced it was about $$.  At the end of the day it always seems to be about $$.  Whether it’s law enforcement costs, city liability, promoter margins or [make your excuse here]… it typically comes down to someone not getting enough $$ or someone paying too much $$.

MEMO TO: Randy Burke (Events Producer (Road Shows)) and Bob Cashell (Reno Mayor) – WORK it out.  The split event sucks!  Street Vibrations started on the street and should stay on the street.  It’s just that simple.  Don’t correct this debacle and I predict a fast decline and the end of Street Vibrations.

If you attended and have an opinion (good or bad) then please send an email or contact Mr. Burke HERE or Mr. Cashell HERE and let them know what you thought of this years rally.

Photo’s taken at the event.

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Siemens & OCC Smart Chopper

Siemens & OCC Smart Chopper

Imagine for a moment an old chopper guy who has a bike totally torn apart.. totally… split cases, gears out of the tranny etc., and is rebuilding the Linkert carb with new gaskets, running new cables and the lot trying to rebuild the bike while making ends meet with the food and electric bills.

Speaking of electric bills, now imagine a highly customized motorcycle that makes only a “whirly” noise when running, but has the ability to scan the rider and identify if there are certain thoughts taking place within the brain, logs the riders intentions before they become actions and informs law enforcement!  Not in my life you say?   Think again.

Siemens (the German engineering company) is a mega-giant in the field of industrial-equipment which few people know about.  They have a deep portfolio of technology as well as significant background in magnetic resonance and MRI medical devices to perform brain scans. It’s well known that researchers have placed volunteers in MRI machines and asked them to decide something while pushing on two different buttons.  Meanwhile in another room scientists are looking at scans of the brain and using the MRI data to figure out what the volunteer intends to do before it is done!  Still a skeptic, then do a “Google” on Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience or look up Dr. Paul Wolpe’s work at the University of Pennsylvania.

MRI Brain Scan

MRI Brain Scan

It’s called predictive behavior and wouldn’t you know the sleeveless dudes at Orange County Choppers (OCC) worked with Siemens to develop that highly customized “ecobike”… an electric motorcycle that has zero emissions.  OCC used recycled materials, water-based paint and lots of Siemens’s electric motor technology, LED lights, and high-tech 12-volt batteries. The bike is estimated to go 60 miles before it needs to be plugged in for a charge and can reach speeds of 100MPH.  And while on the subject of ‘intentions’… it’s smart-grid ready and has the ability to tell the motorcyclist when electricity is cheapest.  Siemens calls the bike the “Smart Chopper” and plans to show off their technical prowess at energy/industrial trade shows and conferences over the next year.

Props to Siemens and the Teutul’s!  I previously blogged on a desire to see Harley-Davidson experiment with and showcase their engineering prowess re; electric motorcycles, but clearly they are not listening to my idea of an American motorcycle manufacture investing in this future technology.  I also provided information on the Zero and the Ashland, OR-based company, Brammo, who announced it was selling an electric motorcycle with an estimated 378 miles per gallon and cost $11,995.

Don’t get me wrong, the OCC/Siemens electric chopper is cool enough, but it looks like an industrial-sized MRI machine between your legs! And, what if I’m correct about those “scans?”  Siemens made special arrangements to have a lot of its products used in the bike and what if that “whirly” sound is determining your intentions – reading your mind – as you throttle on the built in wi-fi relays predictive information to some authority?  Maybe my prediction is off a year or two?  But, at minimum this complicated electronic chopper should provide practical applications such as an understanding of subjective thought and help people change radio channels!

Clearly the technology is moving at a pace which gives any ethicists something to think about.  If you ride the “Smart Chopper” and are accused of a crime please contact me for a complimentary consultation.  I’m not an attorney, but I will blog for your best interests and try to help ensure that you are not wrongly punished for thinking!

Photo courtesy of OCC and Siemens.

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