03/06/2010

Calif. gang officers targeted a third time

An apparent pipe bomb was found next to an officer's car

Associated Press

HEMET, Calif. — A dangerous device found near an officer's car may be the third effort to booby trap gang enforcement officers, police said Friday.

"Right now it is believed that it is related to the other incidents, yes," Lt. Duane Wisehart said. "Somebody's apparently declared war on us."

A gang task force officer who went to a convenience store found a suspicious device next to his unmarked car at around 9 a.m., police said.

Authorities closed down the street and evacuated some businesses while a Riverside County sheriff's bomb squad examined the device.

The device, which was found to be "legitimately hazardous" and dangerous to officers, was rendered safe by the sheriff's team, Wisehart said. Details were not immediately released.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the device was planted next to the car at the convenience store parking lot or whether it may have been attached to the car at the officer's home and come loose.

The gang enforcement unit in Hemet, a desert city 85 miles east of Los Angeles, has been targeted twice by bizarre efforts to harm its members.

On Dec. 31, someone drilled a hole in the roof of the unit's headquarters and diverted a natural gas line from a heater, filling it with the flammable gas.

The booby trap was discovered before anyone was hurt.

Last month, a gun rigged to shoot when the headquarters security gate was opened sent a bullet whizzing past an officer. Again, nobody was hurt.

No arrests have been made.

After the last attempt, Wisehart said the gang unit was being moved to an undisclosed location and reviewing security measures.

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