Steve Tausan, 52, a Hells Angel’s Sergeant-At-Arms for the Santa Cruz chapter of the motorcycle club, was shot and killed on Saturday, while attending the funeral of Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew. Pettigrew himself had been killed by a rival Vagos motorcycle club member, at John Ascuaga’s Nugget hotel casino in Sparks, Nevada last month. With Tausan’s murder a standing taboo of no violence at a funeral was broken.
Tausan was gunned down around 1 PM on Saturday at the Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose, California. 4,000 people attended Jethro Pettigrew’s funeral, with ample police presence, so this can be viewed as a totally public shooting. There were witnesses to the shooting, but exactly what happened, in terms of an apparent altercation, is unknown. Another unknown is the identity of the gunman.
The Mercury News in San Jose has uncovered some evidence about the incident at Oak Hill Memorial Park. Some witnesses have said that the shooter was punched by Steve Tausan. Others have suggested that this yet unidentified biker was suppose to protect Pettigrew last month in Sparks, and was being hassled by Tausan for his negligence, even stripping his Angel’s patch from his vest.
Thus the underling pulls out a gun and shoots the senior veteran biker. One suspects at least one of these witnesses can pin the public execution on somebody with a real name, if not somebody with a reputation. Especially if he was some kind of bodyguard working with the slain bike gang president, Jethro Pettigrew. We’ll be watching for new developments this week, coming forth from Northern California.
If it’s true that the shooter was a member of The Hells Angels, then it wouldn’t fit into a revenge killing type of scenario, where it would be a member of the rival Vagos motorcycle club that was the triggerman, possibly trying to take out a prominent Angel before they did the same thing to them. An offensive strike, you might say.
It has been reported, that many other motorcycle clubs, such as the Henchmen, East Side Riders Car Club, Devil Dolls, Top Hatters, and others, were present at Saturday’s funeral. Are these other groups’ allies or enemies of The Hells Angels? And furthermore, were there any members of the Vagos present Saturday? These questions must be asked, since a shooting at an important funeral shatters a long standing code of peace on such a solemn occasion.
The Mercury News also summarized some of Steve Tausan’s troubled past. A 1997 beating death of a man (by Tausan) at the Pink Poodle strip club in San Jose, and the subsequent acquittal on charges of murder, was apparently very controversial. Especially (controversial is) the angle regarding the way the police continued to harass the Angels after Tausen’s arrest.
The Angels cleaned up on a lawsuit, since they received a $1.8 million legal settlement, which was a result of claiming their civil rights had been violated. While this biographical data on Tausan is interesting, I don’t see how it relates directly to the two deaths of prominent Angels, unless the rivalries with the Vagos group date back to those days in the late 1990s. Connecting the dots of these secretive motorcycle gangs is tricky business by any measure.