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Borderwatch 12-31-2009 06:43 PM

Gang Task Force's Building Rigged to Explode in Hemet
Members of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Gang Task Force discovered a diverted gas line that was routed through their office Thursday morning, Hemet police officials said.

Had the gas line been ignited by static or a lit cigarette, it could have leveled the building and killed anyone in it, Lt. Duane Wisehart said. Police initially described the threat as an explosive device.

Task force members 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 Place and Franklin Street, a couple of blocks from the police station. An explosion 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.

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