Extremists Believed to Target California Police for Death
Authorities are investigating whether white supremacists orchestrated several potentially fatal attacks on police officers in the Southern California city of Hemet.
Some 200 federal, state and local police searched three dozen locations and arrested 23 people in an April 20 raid aimed at identifying the crimes' perpetrators. Those in police custody have been charged with various felonies and misdemeanors, many of them related to weapons, drugs and stolen property. As of press time, none of the charges were directly connected to the attempted murders of the police officers, though authorities say they're hopeful that the mass arrests will help them find those responsible.
The Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force was first targeted in December, when someone redirected a rooftop gas line into the task force building, filling it with natural gas that could have caused a major explosion. In February, a bullet fired from a booby trap device narrowly missed an officer as he opened the security gate at the task force building.
In March, a task force officer who had pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store discovered what he suspected was a "dangerous device" attached to his police vehicle. Hemet police officers who responded to his call had to evacuate the convenience store and nearby businesses and close blocks of city street. Investigators determined that the device had been attached to the vehicle before the officer stopped at the convenience store and that it would have injured or killed the officer if it had functioned as intended.
No one was hurt in the attacks. Riverside County is offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those who carried out the crimes against the task force, which is made up of officers from the Hemet Police Department, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, and the Riverside County Probation Department.
Hemet is located in the region of California known as the Inland Empire, which, as the Intelligence Report documented in 2005, became a hotbed of white supremacist activity as large numbers of minorities moved into an area once dominated by whites. Four members of the COORS (Comrades of Our Racist Struggle) Family Skinheads were expected to stand trial in May on attempted murder charges for viciously attacking a Latino man in November 2008. And last spring, seven members of the Inland Empire Skinheads were arrested on various charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and home invasion robbery. One of the skinheads, who was pregnant when she was arrested on April 20, 2009, tried to induce labor so her baby would be born on Hitler's birthday.