OFF THE WIRE
Hundreds attend funeral for SJ Hells Angel member
Hundreds of Hells Angels members gathered in San Jose at the Oak Hill Cemetery Saturday to remember a member who was shot and killed at a funeral for another Hells Angel.
It's not often the word 'hell" is accepted and used with such affection in a church as it was Saturday, but then Hells Angels member Steve Tausan was no ordinary guy.
Inside the church, hundreds said goodbye to the 52-year-old man who was gunned down at the same cemetery two weeks ago.
"He loved the club. Man, did he love the club,” said pastor Dick Bernal. "Steve was a believer. Granted, he left his halo at home most of the time!"
Tausan's pastor and friends described him as an imposing, bigger-than-life physical presence with a heart to match.
"If he didn't like you, you knew right away, and if he loved you, he loved you like family,” said Tausan's friend Ed Mumbert.
Tough men showed openly Saturday just how hard a senseless death can be on the living.
A deafening procession of motorcycles accompanied Tausan back to the same cemetery where he died.
A beefed up force of San Jose police officers kept watch just in case of retaliation.
A police spokesman wouldn't say exactly how many police officers were at the Oak Hill Cemetery, but the department planned to have at least 70 officers standing guard outside the cemetery’s front gates.
Tausan was a high-ranking member of the Santa Cruz Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and was killed while attending the memorial for Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew.
Pettigrew was president of the San Jose chapter of the Hell’s Angels and was killed in September during a shootout between rival motorcycle gangs at a casino in Sparks, Nev.
During Pettigrew’s memorial at Oak Hill Cemetery, police said 38-year-old Steven Ruiz got in an argument with Tausan, which resulted in Ruiz pulling out a gun and shooting Tausan.
Between 3,000-to-4,000 people had attended Pettigrew's service and though several officers were nearby, police said the huge crowd made it difficult to respond to the shooting and apprehend Ruiz
Meanwhile Ruiz was still on the run Saturday. Last weekend police raided a house in Stockton, firing tear gas, but they did not Ruiz.
Police believe Ruiz is on the run with his girlfriend, and that he's armed and dangerous.
The couple may be traveling in a gold or pewter Chevrolet Suburban and headed for Arizona or New York, where Ruiz has relatives.
In contrast to Pettigrew’s memorial, Saturday's funeral service for Tausan was expected to be much smaller since it will be by invitation-only -- a security precaution police say they worked out with Tausan's family ahead of time.
There was heavy security at the funeral service for a Hells Angel biker on Saturday. A fellow biker shot the man to death while the motorcycle club was laying to rest another member.
The Hells Angels motorcycle gang gathered to remember Steve Tausan, 52, at Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose. Meanwhile, police are still looking for the member who shot and killed him.
It was the second massive Hells Angels funeral in just two weeks: Another roar of motorcycles along Curtner Avenue in San Jose. This time, the motorcycle gang came to bury Tausen.
Related Content Story: SJ Hells Angels president killed in casino shooting The last time Tausen was at the Oak Hill Cemetery, he was shot to death at the funeral of another Hells Angels biker.
"They way it went down is not a good thing," said friend Richard Holly. "Sad that it had to go that way. Steve was a very well-known person, very respected amongst the community. A good family man."
Police had a large presence as well, even greater than the last time, although officials wouldn't give numbers. Officers roped off parking lots at the shopping center across from the cemetery, and a credit union opposite Oak Hill's main gate decided not to open today. Customers were instead greeted with a note on the door.
The loud procession of bikers also brought out spectators.
"Like the Blue Angels, the noise it puts out -- perfect," said Sunnyvale resident Larry Kruckenberg.
There was much less commotion than the funeral two weeks ago. Thousands of bikers had gathered at Oak Hill for the burial of Hells Angels member Jeffrey Pettigrew, who was murdered at a Nevada casino.
During Pettigrew's burial, someone shot Tausan. The suspected killer, Steve Ruiz, has still not been captured. A warrant is out for his arrest.
On Saturday, Tausan was laid to rest on a hilltop on the other side of the cemetery from the graveside where he was murdered two Saturdays ago.
"This time, we (were) still focusing on the fact that there might be outside groups coming in to cause problems, although we had no credible information that would occur," said Jose Garcia with the San Jose Police Department. "We also believe that it wasn't beyond possibility that there would be friction among the same group."
Earlier in the day, about a thousand people gathered at the Jubilee Christian Center for a church service before heading to the cemetery. Police didn't say whether or not they had undercover officers inside the cemetery.
The funeral was peaceful and the cemetery was reopened after a few hours of being closed for the private event. Around 2:30 p.m., the bikers left the cemetery without incident.