Describing it as “urban terrorism,” California Attorney General Jerry Brown has joined with Riverside County officials in asking the public to help find those who tried at least three times to kill officers assigned to a gang task force. “It is incredible and even unprecedented for police officers here to be subject to terrorist attack,” Brown said. “We have seen it south of the border, but not here yet.” The attacks have involved booby traps aimed at either the headquarters of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force or officers assigned to the unit.
Last December a utility line was redirected to flood the offices with gas so any spark would cause an explosion. In February, a modified handgun was hidden by the gate to the office and rigged to fire. When a gang officer opened the gate, the weapon went off, narrowly missing him. And two weeks ago, police said, a “dangerous” device was found near the unmarked car of a task force member. “Unfortunately, somebody out there is trying to kill our police officers,” said Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana. “The only reason they haven’t killed an officer yet is because [officers] have been observant enough to see the devices, but we can’t expect their luck to hold up.” “They aren’t your typical street gang hanging out on a corner slinging rock cocaine,” said Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco. “It is a well-established pattern of the Vagos to infiltrate police departments. They do a lot of surveillance.”