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Hemet gang task force finds explosive device in its office

December 31, 2009 |  1:13 pm

 Members of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force discovered an explosive device in their office this morning, Hemet police officials said, adding that had it exploded, it could have leveled the building and killed anyone in it.

Task force members discovered the device about 8:30 a.m. “and immediately realizing something wasn’t right … they backed out of the office and made a call,” said Lt. Duane Wisehart.

“It was planned to blow up the building and anyone in it; we’re not really sure why it didn’t,” he said.

The device was defused by the bomb squad, and investigators are looking for evidence concerning who placed it in the building and how, he said. It is “an educated guess” that the device’s placement has something to do with gangs, he said.

The task force office is located at the corner of St. John and Franklin streets, a couple of blocks from the police station. Had it exploded, it likely would have damaged surrounding buildings as well, Wisehart said.

The task force, formed five years ago, includes members of the Hemet Police Department, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the county probation office, the state parole office and the district attorney’s office. 

-- Raja Abdulrahim