March 21, 2010 in Nation/World

String of threats targeting police raises alert in California town

Thomas Watkins Associated Press

HEMET, Calif. – The tense atmosphere surrounding a California police department plagued by booby trap attacks has been stepped up a notch following the latest threat against officers.

Someone called 911 at about 5:45 p.m. Friday saying a police car would be blown up in the Hemet-San Jacinto area in the next 24 to 48 hours, Hemet police Chief Richard Dana said.

“We’re heightening the alert,” Dana told the Press-Enterprise. The caller said the attack would be in retaliation for the law enforcement sweep against the Vagos Motorcycle Club earlier this week.

About 30 members of the Vagos, California’s largest motorcycle gang, were arrested in Riverside County on Wednesday as part of a crackdown in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Officials announced Thursday a $200,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the Hemet-area booby traps aimed at officers in recent weeks.

Among the incidents:

•A natural gas pipe was shoved through a hole drilled into the roof of the gang enforcement unit’s headquarters.

•A ballistic contraption was attached to a sliding security fence around the building. An officer opening the black steel gate triggered the mechanism, which sent a bullet within 8 inches of his face.

•An explosive device was attached to a police officer’s unmarked car while he went into a store.

Gang enforcement officers appear to be the target of the assassination attempts, Dana said.

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