US biker feud started 'over a Starbucks'

Rivals gangs clash leaving several dead

SEVERAL men have been killed in a dispute between rival biker gangs over who gets to 'own' the local Starbucks.

Ranked by law enforcement as the most severe clash of two California-based biker groups in nearly a decade, the bloodshed started in January 2010, when the Hells Angels' and Vagos gangs fought outside the Santa Cruz Starbucks, using hammers to bludgeon each other before the police arrived.

Since the initial dispute, the president of the Hells Angels' San Jose chapter, Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, 51, was shot to death. The Pettigrew killing came 11 months after a gunfight between the two gangs in Arizona that left five people wounded.

The death of Pettigrew sparked tensions within the Hells Angels' own ranks that led to yet another slaying in California. The Sergeant-at-arms of the San Jose chapter, Steven Tausan, 52, was shot and killed by a fellow Hells Angel who believed he failed to protect Pettigrew.

The recent bloodshed can all be traced to last year's push by Vagos, founded in the 1960s in a Southern California desert community, into the northern coastal town of Santa Cruz, long claimed as Hells Angels territory.

"It was all about who would be allowed to hang out at the Starbucks downtown," Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said. "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."

He added: "Only in Santa Cruz would you have biker wars over who's going to control pumpkin spice lattes."