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Hemet police gang-unit building booby-trapped

February 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Investigators say someone is targeting a police anti-gang unit building in Hemet. Wednesday, we learned about a booby trap using a gun. Last December someone tried to blow up the same building using natural gas.The location is one or two blocks from the Hemet Police Station. That's important in this story because the Hemet Police Department is manned 24 hours a day. The location handles a regional gang task force where people from several agencies, including the Hemet Police Department, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney, all work on gang problems.

There is a gang problem throughout the county, and it is an easy target here because the location is not manned 24 hours a day: an easy target for individuals apparently bent on spreading fear or even killing.

Tuesday afternoon an officer was opening the gate to the headquarters to go to work.

"He went to open the gate, which is manually opened -- it's not on an opener -- went to open the gate, he hears a gunshot near him. Obviously he thought he was maybe being shot at, surveyed the area, looked around. And then we realized that it was actually a booby-trap-type device, or improvised-type homemade firearm attached to the area, so that when he did open the gate, it was set to go off and fire at him," said Hemet Police Lieutenant Duane Wisehart.

The officer was not hit. The slug was found a hundred yards down the street. This is the second time this building has been booby-trapped. On December 31, someone attached a hose from a rooftop heater outlet, filling the building with natural gas. Experts say there could have been a disastrous explosion.

"We can't identify if they're angry at an individual or at the task force in general, the task force, the police force, who they're angry at, if in fact it's the same person, but they're obviously intent on doing some damage to somebody in this building," said Wisehart.

No specific threats have been made and no one is taking credit for the activity. A great deal of effort is being made to find the people responsible.

"This is definitely a priority on everybody's, on all the departments and all the people that work here, especially our department," said Wisehart. "It's definitely a priority with us to figure out what happened and who's doing it."

Wisehart said there are no gangs that are very active in this particular area, and there are six task force office like this one throughout Riverside County, so you know it is a problem. And they're not having much success in finding out who was responsible.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Hemet Police Department at (951) 765-2400.