Hells Angels Accused in Brazen Killing of Rival Biker Gang Leader

The execution-style slaying was retribution for an earlier attack on the Hells Angels clubhouse in the Bronx, the police said.

The Hells Angels headquarters on Longstreet Avenue in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx on Wednesday.Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

By Ed Shanahan and William K. Rashbaum

Published July 22, 2020Updated July 23, 2020, 7:42 a.m. ET

Two beefy men in black T-shirts come through a gate onto a residential block in the Bronx, one after another. It is a quiet May afternoon. As they cross the street, the front doors of a Jeep Cherokee parked nearby open.

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Two men in dark hoodies get out from either side, lift pistols and begin shooting. The gunmen chase one of the fleeing men in black down the block, firing until he falls to the ground, and after as well. Then they head back toward the S.U.V. and leave.

The victim of the execution-style killing, which was captured on a security camera, was a local building superintendent named Frank Rosado, who, according to the police, was also the leader of the Bronx chapter of the Pagans motorcycle gang.

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On Wednesday, two members of a rival gang, the Hells Angels, and a third man were charged in the brazen slaying, which officials said was retribution for the Pagans shooting up a Bronx building the Angels moved into last year after they sold their longtime Manhattan clubhouse.

That shooting, on Jan. 2, was meant as the opposite of a friendly welcome, the police said.

“The Hells Angels moved from Manhattan to the Bronx,” Lt. William S. O’Toole, the commander of the Police Department’s Bronx Homicide Squad said. “So the Pagans want to show them, ‘We’re the Bronx Pagans. We’re the motorcycle club.’”

An image from surveillance video footage captured two gunmen carrying out an execution-style killing in the Bronx. 
An image from surveillance video footage captured two gunmen carrying out an execution-style killing in the Bronx. Credit…New York Police Department

The attack on the Angels’ new headquarters — a former American Legion hall in the Throgs Neck section — rattled the neighborhood. The hail of gunfire was the first sign for many local residents that the infamous biker gang, which has a history of crime and violence, was moving in, the district manager of the local community board said on Wednesday.

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“We were hoping they would be good neighbors,” the district manager, Matthew Cruz, said. The shooting, he added, indicated that the club would not be “a welcome addition” to the area.

The Angels soon began plotting their revenge, Lieutenant O’Toole said. Five months later, on May 2, Mr. Rosado, 51, the reputed Pagans leader, was gunned down at 3:20 p.m. on Holland Avenue in the Allerton section, near the Mace Avenue apartment building where he lived and was the super.

On Tuesday, the police arrested Frank Tatulli, 58, and Anthony Destefano, 27, both of the Bronx, and Sayanon Thongthawath, 29, of Queens, in Mr. Rosado’s killing, officials said. Mr. Tatulli was arrested at his home, the police said. It was not immediately clear where the other two men were taken into custody.

Mr. Tatulli, who is known as Loose Cannon, and Mr. Thongthawath, who is known as Andy, are Hells Angels members, Lieutenant O’Toole said.

Mr. Destefano belongs to Satan’s Soldiers, a gang that is considered a feeder outfit for the Angels, and he aspired to rise into the ranks of the better known gang, the lieutenant said. Mr. Tatulli and Mr. Thongthawath had long criminal histories, he said.

All three were charged on Wednesday with second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon, the police said. Officials did not identify which of the three were the gunmen. They all were waiting to be formally charged before a judge on Wednesday night.

The Angels’ New York City chapter relocated to the Bronx last year after selling its building on East Third Street in Manhattan, which the group had occupied since 1969, for around $8 million, according to property records.

After the sale, the gang bought around a half-dozen properties in and around Throgs Neck, a quiet, residential neighborhood near the water. The acquisitions included the new clubhouse on Longstreet Avenue that was shot up in January. Several gang members live in the area, Lieutenant O’Toole said.

Both the Angels and the Pagans have chapters in cities across the United States, although it is unclear how robust their organizations are over all. Investigators executing a search warrant at the Throgs Neck clubhouse were told that the group had only about 15 active members in the Bronx.

The two motorcycle gangs have clashed elsewhere over the years, and even at times in the New York City area, but Lieutenant O’Toole said that relations had been mostly peaceful between their chapters in the city — until January.

At this point, he added, tensions between them appear to remain high. He noted that the police recovered four handguns and three shotguns when the accused men were arrested on Tuesday.

The arrests came after an investigation by detectives from Bronx Homicide and the 49th Precinct that included painstakingly compiling surveillance video footage from dozens of spots along the roughly 20-minute route the gunmen followed after fleeing the shooting scene — including from city buses they passed — and examining cellphone-location data, Lieutenant O’Toole said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Rosado’s daughter Brittany Rosado said the arrests were an answer to the family’s prayers, but bittersweet nonetheless.

Ms. Rosado described her father as a “kind spirit” and a “beautiful soul” whose death had “left a hole that can never be filled.”

She also said she was unaware of any involvement he might have had with a motorcycle gang or what role that might have played in his killing.

“We don’t know anything about that,” she said.

Matthew Haag contributed reporting, and Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Source: The New York Times