5 years after biker gang casino shootout, new trial looms

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Casino patrons dived for cover under blackjack tables as two rival gangs fired dozens of shots at each other during a deadly brawl on the floor of a northern Nevada casino five years ago this weekend.

The day after a Hells Angels boss died in the melee, a member of the Vagos gang was shot in retaliation, leading the mayor of Sparks to declare a state of emergency. FBI agents joined an extensive manhunt for the killer.

Ernesto Gonzalez, a Vagos leader, was caught a week later, telling police who found him cowering in his car in San Francisco that he was relieved to be caught. He had feared they were Hells Angels coming to kill him.

Gonzalez was convicted of the slaying and sentenced to life in prison but won an appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court in December and was granted a new trial.