There are a lot of places you would expect a turf war to break out between some seriously hardcore biker gangs. Places like a bar, the gangs’ respective hideouts, the middle of a desert or even a strip club all seem like likely turf war locations. One place that you wouldn’t expect to see this happen is outside of a Starbucks in California.
However unlikely the scenario may have been, a turf war between the Hell’s Angels and a rival motorcycle gang broke out at the coffee house last year leaving several men dead, wounded or missing in as many as three states and leading to fears of even more bloodshed.
Police officials have ranked this clash as the most severe in over a decade as the violence spilled into Nevada a month ago, including a brawl as well as a shooting between members of the Hell’s Angels and rival gang Vagos. Jeffery “Jethro” Pettigrew, 51, president of the San Jose, California chapter of the Hell’s Angels, was shot to death while a single Vagos member was wounded in the brawl at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Casino in Sparks.
However, the violence didn’t stop there as another member of Vagos was wounded in a drive-by shooting the very next day at the site of a nearby motorcycle rally in town. And here I thought Starbucks was such a pleasant and peaceful place.
Tensions between the two gangs reached a breaking point in January of 2010 as members of both gangs battled it out with ball-peen hammers and other weapons outside a Santa Cruz Starbucks before scattering as police arrived on the scene.
According to Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark, “It was all about who would be allowed to hang out at the Starbucks downtown. The Vagos brazenly came in and tried to cement their presence. It was a pretty strong play on their part to establish themselves as the premiere club. Only in Santa Cruz would you have biker wars over who’s going to control pumpkin spice lattes.”
And therein lies the absurdity. Why in the name of everything you hold dear would you get into an all out brawl, costing some people their lives, over a freaking Starbucks? Are the grande double mocha frappuccino and blueberry scone really that important?
It has been stated that the Hell’s Angels are not involved in all the illegal activities, like drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, money laundering, theft and other violent crimes, like the government and law enforcement officials say they are.
San Francisco-based lawyer Karen Snell, who has represented a number of Hell’s Angels members, stated that Pettigrew and Tausan were “family guys” as members of the gang insist that the overwhelming majority of the 2,000-2,5000 nationwide members are law-abiding citizens who share a love of powerful motorcycles. Members also point out the group’s prominent role in certain charity events as proof of their being docile.
Regardless, I find it hard to believe that simply “family guys” were involved in casino brawls, shootings and turf wars at, of all places, Starbucks. So the next time you are grabbing yet another tall caramel macchiato, remember that you could be stepping onto the turf of a hardened biker gang. And if there is one thing you never want to do it’s stand between a biker and his coffee.
Source: Yahoo! News – Worst California biker feud in a decade erupted at Starbucks