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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Biker gangs eyed in fatal Sparks casino shooting


01:44 |

 

Police stepped up patrols at a motorcycle festival in Reno and Sparks on Saturday after a gun battle between two rival gangs at a hotel-casino left one Hells Angel dead and two members of the Vagos club injured. The fatal shooting at John Ascuaga's Nugget on Interstate 80 in Sparks happened at about 11:30 p.m. Friday as thousands of motorcyclists descended on the area for the annual Street Vibrations celebration, police confirmed. Sparks police Lt. Brian Allen said officers were investigating whether there was any connection between that fatal incident and a drive-by shooting at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday about a half mile from the Nugget. Allen said police arrested one Hells Angel in connection with Friday night's fatal shooting. He said officers made a number of other arrests but provided no details. "We're trying to minimize any other potential violence," Allen said. Officials in neighboring Reno said they too were increasing patrols and would request assistance from federal law enforcement if necessary. "Local law enforcement is working with federal agencies in a coordinated effort, including increased patrol, tactical teams and undercover officers," Reno city officials said in a statement Saturday afternoon. Authorities in Arizona arrested more than two dozen members of the two gangs in August 2010 after a shootout between them wounded five people but none seriously in the small community of Chino Valley, north of Prescott. On Friday night at the Nugget, Daniel Sharp of Stockton, Calif., told the Reno Gazette-Journal he was in the dance area near Trader Dick's restaurant just off the casino floor when a group of Vagos club members came in. Sharp said a single Hells Angels member then entered the area, soon followed by several more. He says that within about five minutes a fight had erupted and shots rang out. "It was mayhem," he said. Other witnesses told the newspaper they heard between a dozen and two dozen gunshots. The casino was evacuated and put on lockdown at about midnight. The Nugget said in a statement that the casino and all its restaurants had reopened by midday Saturday. It said that in addition to its own "extensive security force," uniformed officers would patrol inside the casino the rest of the weekend. Joe Franco, of Reno, said he saw one man in Hells Angel garb pull out a gun after he was knocked to the ground in a fistfight with a rival. "He was down with the bloody nose, gets up and pulls out the gun and that's the first shot," apparently at the man who punched him, Franco said. "Then he turned the gun toward the south of the building and that's when he started firing into the crowd," Franco told the Gazette-Journal. "The guy who was doing the shooting was an older man. He must have been 50, 55." Everyone started ducking as soon as the first shot was fired, Franco said. "By the third shot we were already running," he said.


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