Two men charged with police attacks in Riverside County allegedly targeted one detective
Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco on Tuesday filed charges against the two men suspected in a series of attacks against Hemet police, a campaign of violence that apparently targeted a single detective who had arrested one of the suspects on a drug charge last year.
Nicholas John Smit, 39, of Hemet, was charged with nine felonies, including three charges of attempted murder of a police officer. He faces multiple life sentences if convicted.
Steven Hansen, 36, of Homeland, was charged with one count of attempted murder of a police officer as well as conspiracy to murder a police officer, and faces up to 30 years in prison.
Pacheco said he has never seen such an intense campaign of “domestic terrorism’’ waged against a local police department.
“Once convicted, and they will be convicted, neither will have the opportunity again to commit these offenses against law enforcement or against anyone else,’’ Pacheco said. “They will be in our state prison system until they take their last breath.’’
Pacheco said evidence indicates that the two suspects were “associated’’ with a white supremacist gang, and possibly the Vagos motorcycle gang, but did not elaborate. Neither suspect faces gang-related charges.
Pacheco said the two suspects specifically targeted Hemet Police Det. Charles Johnson, who arrested Smit on marijuana charges in 2009. Smit stalked Johnson for months, found out what car he drove and where he lived, he said.
The two are suspected of being involved in the attacks on Hemet police that started six months ago, including arson fires and a booby-trapped zip gun rigged to shoot an anti-gang investigator.
Police Chief Richard Dana said 78 officers, Riverside County sheriff's deputies and federal agents raided the two suspects' homes Friday.
-- Phil Willon
Photo: Riverside Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco, right, put his arm on the shoulder of Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana after a press conference announcing the charges against two suspects involved in numerous attacks on the Hemet police department. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times