A judge has set a $2 million bail for Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, the Vagos motorcycle gang member accused of killing the Hells Angels boss at a casino in Nevada this fall.
The judge gave good reason for the high bail -- he considers Gonzalez a flight risk. KTVU reports that Gonzalez had bought a plane ticket for El Salvado the day before his was arrested on suspicion of killing Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, the leader of the San Jose Hells Angels.
A detective in the case testified Wednesday that Gonzalez's flight for El
Salvador was scheduled to depart Los Angeles on Sept. 29, with a connection to Costa Rica. Gonzalez, 53, was arrested in San Francisco on Sept. 30.
"I'm not sure it was so much to get away from northern Nevada as
perhaps from the other gang," Washoe District Judge Connie Steinheimer was quoted saying.
Gonzalez claims the Hells Angels were on a manhunt for him when he spotted by two UCSF police officers just a week after the shooting. The cops ran his name and learned he was wanted in Nevada for the shooting. He purportedly told the cops that the Hells Angels were after him and to get him out of there as fast as possible. "He also told the officer that, 'For respect for your family and
yourself, you need to get out of here, too,'" Sparks Police detective John
Patton said at Wednesday's hearing.
They didn't waste any time hauling Gonzalez -- who had $1,740 cash, a passport, and three cell phones on him when he was arrested -- off to jail. Phone records indicated he had been in contact with high-ranking Vagos members who were probably trying to help him escape before he was killed.
The shooting and arrest only heightened tensions and violence between the rival motorcycle gangs. Even members within the Hells Angels were turning on each other. Steve Ruiz, a Hells Angel, is accused of killing Steve Tausan, a fellow Angel, while the two were at funeral services for Pettigrew.
Police issued an alert earlier this week, saying there were "credible" reports that Ruiz had been spotted in San Jose.
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