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Members of gang task force in Hemet are targeted by a booby trap for second time

February 25, 2010 | 11:39 am

Calling it an act of domestic terrorism, Hemet police are on high alert after a booby trap targeting members of the gang task force went off, narrowly missing an officer as he left his car to open a gate.

The is the second time in recent months that members of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force have been targeted.

In Tuesday’s incident, an officer was stepping out of his car to open a security gate at the task force headquarters when there was a loud crack and a bullet flew by just a few feet from him, landing 100 yards away in a nearby driveway.

“It was an improvised device capable of firing a regular bullet, and it was attached in such a way so that when the gate was opened, it activated and fired. Fortunately it narrowly missed,” said Hemet Police Lt. Duane Wisehart. “The gun was affixed to a fence and hard to see. It could have definitely killed someone. This is domestic terrorism.”

On New Year’s Day, someone cut a hole in the roof of the building and rerouted a natural gas pipeline. Then the valve was opened, filling the office with gas. Police said an explosion could have been set off had they not discovered the leak and emptied the building.

Wisehart said the device found this week wasn’t overly sophisticated but that it was deadly nonetheless. The building houses investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the parole department and the district attorney’s office.

The unit is in the process of moving to another location.

Wisehart said Hemet has about 1,000 gang members, many who moved in from Los Angeles, drawn by low housing prices. Still, there are no suspects in this case.

“It could be one person who is mad at the police or the gang task force,” he said. “Everyone is being much more vigilant of their surroundings. We don’t know how far this person is willing to go. It’s unnerving.”

-- David Kelly

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