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Diverted gas line threatened gang task force office

December 31, 2009 |  4:38 pm

Gas line Hemet police now say it was a diverted gas line, and not an explosive device, that was discovered in its local gang task force office this morning.

The gas line was rerouted through the office, and had it been ignited from static or a lit cigarette, it could have leveled the building and killed anyone in it, said Lt Duane Wisehart. Police described the line earlier as an "explosive device."

Members of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force discovered the diverted gas line about 8:30 a.m. “and immediately realizing something wasn’t right ... they backed out of the office and made a call,” Wisehart said.

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

The gas line was dismantled by the bomb squad and investigators are looking for evidence concerning who rerouted it in the building and how, Wisehart said. It is “an educated guess” that this has something to do with gangs, he said.

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

The task force, which was 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 

Photo: The rigged gas line feeding into the gang task force office.

Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5