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Hemet police in search of 2 more suspects

July 3, 2010 11:46:21 PM PDT
Hemet police have arrested two individuals, both without apparent gang times, in connection with a string of attacks targeted at Hemet law enforcement facilities.

In a press conference Saturday, Hemet Police Department Chief Richard Dana said officers are still seeking two other people who have been linked to some of the attacks against Hemet police for the past seven months.

Nicholas John Smit of Hemet and Steven Hansen of Homeland were arrested Friday by 80 officers working in a multi-agency task.

Smit, 40, is being held on suspicion of making a booby trap and assault on a police officer with intent to commit murder. Hansen, 36, a convicted arsonist, is being held for parole violation and weapons charges.

Smit was arrested Friday night when police and federal authorities raided his home in Hemet.

"The SWAT team was here," said Smit's roommate, Charles Pickering. "They had their big rifles. They totally raided the house."

Since Dec. 31, law enforcement officials in Hemet have been targeted seven times through arson attacks and booby traps.

The most recent attack came Monday when a fire was set at a Hemet police evidence storage facility. The fire caused significant damage to the building and evidence inside.

Other attacks include several arsons, the routing of an open natural gas line into a police building, and a fizzled attempt to fire a bazooka mortar at the Hemet police headquarters.

Investigators said they have physical evidence against Smit linking him to the attacks.

"The bad guy invoked his rights and didn't want to talk to us," Dana said. "He did make a couple of statements that led us to believe he doesn't like us very much."

There's no known motive for the attacks, authorities said.

Smit was arrested for a long list of charges, including attempted murder of a police officer.

The attacks have not resulted in any injuries. Police say the case remains open and under investigation.

"It's a great feeling to think that some of these people are in custody," Dana said. "There's a fear that people might let down their guard because there are still some problems out there."


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