Police: Fire set at evidence building could be linked to series of attacks in California
HEMET, Calif. – HEMET, Calif. (AP) — A pre-dawn fire that set off ammunition at a police evidence building was likely linked to six booby trap attacks on law enforcement officials in this small Southern California town, authorities said Monday.
No injuries were reported in the fire inside the unmarked building. Arriving firefighters also had to deal with heavy smoke and security locks.
The fire was doused in less than 30 minutes.
"This makes us think whoever's behind this is letting us know they're still out there," police Lt. Duane Wisehart said. "It just doesn't end. We're doing everything we can."
Detectives were trying to determine how much of the burned evidence was involved in cases awaiting trial.
Police Chief Richard Dana said none of the evidence came from the previous attacks on police in Hemet, located about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Investigators were proceeding on the assumption the fire was the seventh attack in the past six months targeting police and city property.
Police have not identified any suspects in the attacks.
On Dec. 31, a natural gas pipe was rerouted into the headquarters of an anti-gang unit. The building filled with flammable vapor, but an officer smelled the danger and the building emptied before anyone was hurt.
In another attack, a ballistic device strapped to a fence at a gang task force compound sent a bullet within inches of an officer's face.
There also have been several other suspicious fires, including one at a police rifle range and another in March that burned four city trucks in a parking lot several blocks from the Police Department.
No one has been injured.
Local and federal authorities have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those behind the attacks.
Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com