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Second suspect in attacks on Hemet Police Department pleads guilty

January 9, 2012 |  4:28 pm

A second suspect in a series of violent attacks against the Hemet Police Department, including the rigging of a rocket launcher to fire at the main police station, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Steven William Hansen, 38, could have faced up to life in prison if the case had gone to trial. He agreed to the plea during a Riverside County Superior Court hearing in French Valley, outside of Murrieta.

Last month, the mastermind behind the attacks, Nicolas Smit, was sentenced to four life terms for the attacks on the Police Department. For months, Smit stalked and focused the attacks on Hemet Police Det. Charles Johnson, who had arrested Smit earlier on marijuana and gun charges.

“Obviously, Smit was really the driving force, the heavy in the case. Hansen definitely helped him, though," said Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. Daniel DeLimon. “They were working with devices that were lethal and could have very well resulted in someone getting killed."

The attacks began in late 2009, putting the entire Riverside County city on edge until the suspects were arrested in July 2010. Along with the rocket launcher, the two were accused of rigging a booby-trapped zip gun to shoot Johnson and diverted a severed natural gas line into the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force. The gas did not ignite.

In June 2010, authorities found a vintage military rocket on the roof of a nearby market, pointed in the direction of the police station office where Johnson worked. The rocket turned out to be an inert test round, although both suspects believed it was live and attempted to fire the weapon, DeLimon said.

“Ultimately, the rocket attack was not the most brilliant plan," DeLimon said.

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--Phil Willon

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