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I.E. booby-trap artist may have struck again

March 5, 2010 12:44:52 AM PST
There was an apparent pipe-bomb scare in the Inland Empire on Friday, and authorities are concerned it's the work of a booby-trap artist who has struck at least two other times.Authorities said an unmarked patrol car pulled into an AMPM at Sanderson and Acacia avenues at about 8 a.m. When the officer returned to his car, he observed a suspicious device, perhaps a pipe bomb, near the car.

Hemet police said they have good reason to believe the device was dangerous and believe it is connected to two previous incidents.

"Somebody has apparently declared war on us, so we're going to have to treat that accordingly," said Lt. Duane Wisehart of the Hemet Police Department.

The first incident happened on Dec. 31, 2009, when one of the detectives with the Hemet Police Department gang task force showed up at their unmarked building. He opened the door and found the building filled with natural gas.

Someone had cut the gas line and rigged it so that natural gas was pumped into the building throughout the night. No one was hurt. No one was arrested for the incident.

Almost two months later, another booby trap was set at the gang task force building. This time, a gun was rigged to fire at the first person to open the sliding gate in front of the building. When an officer opened the gate, the gun fired, but fortunately, the shot missed. No one was hurt, but again, no one was arrested for the incident.

The bomb squad is investigating and has not determined whether the device is real or not.

All businesses in the area have been evacuated, and several streets were closed while authorities investigate the latest incident.