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Post  EVANS STR. GANG on Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:26 pm

New attack? Hemet police range burns
05:31 PM PDT on Monday, April 12, 2010

Hemet and federal arson investigators are investigating whether an early morning blaze that destroyed the main building at a police shooting range was the latest in a series of attacks on Hemet police.

Hemet firefighters and police were notified by a rerouted cellular 911 call of a fire at the shooting range hidden in the hillsides off Warren Road and Esplanade Avenue shortly after 2 a.m. Monday.

The blaze had completely engulfed the single-story training facility that is not visible from the roadway and not open to the public. It follows four previous attacks on Hemet police and city code enforcement vehicles since Dec. 31. No one has been injured in the attacks.

"On the surface it does appear suspicious," Hemet Fire Chief Matt Shobert said. "Given the activities of the last three months and the location of the fire, it does not rule out anything, including that it could be accidental."

Hemet police would not speculate on the cause of the blaze. However, police had not ruled out a connection to previous attacks, Hemet police Capt. Dave Brown said.

"The fire itself is not suspicious, the context of the last three months is," Brown said. "There's no physical evidence or intelligence found so far to link it to those events."

Burn site canvassed

A task force of Hemet police, Riverside County sheriff's detectives, district attorney investigators and permanently stationed agents from the FBI has been investigating past attacks on police:

On Dec. 31, a natural gas line was rerouted to rig the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force building to explode.

On Feb. 23 a gun attached to the same office's gate is rigged to fire, barely missing an officer who opened it.

On March 5, a deadly device affixed to an officer's vehicle falls off when he parked at a convenience store.

Just before midnight March 23, four Hemet city code-enforcement pickups at City Hall were destroyed by fire.

By daylight Monday, and following heavy rain that began after the blaze was ignited, the hillsides were swarming with police snipers and Hemet detectives, Riverside County arson investigators and agents with the California Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The ATF's Certified Fire Investigators responded to investigate the possibility of arson, said bureau spokeswoman Elaine Kwong. About two-thirds of the building on the range was destroyed.

"Anything on this level with threats on law enforcement, we offer our support," Kwong said.

City Emergency Proposed

Police declined to describe the history and use of the firing range, only calling it an off-site police training facility. The wooden structure and outdoor-shooting range is nestled amid rocky hillsides away from any homes and next to a recycling plant.

According to city records, it has been used by Hemet police dating back to at least the mid-1990s. It is only visible from the top of steep hill near a white cross..

Hemet City Councilwoman Robin Lowe said the range is maintained by the city's Police Department and only a few people know of the site's remote location.

"How could you say it's not connected?" Lowe said. "The perpetrator may not be the same, but it appears one instance was brought on another. It's just another step."

The Hemet City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday to declare a city emergency to acquire funding to improve security at police facilities without opening contracts to outside bids.

Police have reiterated that residents of the city are safe.

"These events have very specifically targeted police and the Gang Task Force," Brown said. "We need to keep that in context."
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Post  P_LOKO on Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:56 pm

It goes down in the H-Town!

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