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Hemet police shooting range largely destroyed in early-morning blaze

April 12, 2010 |  1:57 pm

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, with Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana, shown at a press conference on March 18. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Authorities are investigating whether an early-morning fire Monday at a Hemet police shooting range is another in a recent series of attacks on the department.

The fire at the remote training facility off Warren Road broke out shortly after 2 a.m. Much of the building was destroyed in the blaze.

"In light [of] the incidents involving our department over the past three months, we are investigating the possibility that this is related," said Hemet Police Capt. Dave Brown. "But we will not speculate at this point until the investigators are able to complete their work." 

Officers have been on high alert in the wake of four attacks apparently targeting Hemet police and city property since January. The first was on New Year's Day when someone redirected natural-gas lines at the offices of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force, making an explosion possible.

A second incident featured a homemade firearm rigged to go off when the gate to the parking lot at the gang task force facility was opened. The bullet narrowly missed an officer.

The third involved what police called a deadly device affixed to the bottom of an unmarked police car that fell off before it could activate. And on March 23, four code-enforcement trucks were torched behind City Hall the day after someone threatened to burn a police car.

There is a $200,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is behind the attacks.

-- David Kelly

Photo: Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, center, attends a news conference Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana last month. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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