Riverside County prosecutors Wednesday filed attempted murder charges against against a man suspected in a series of attacks on Hemet police and county anti-gang officers since the end of last year.
Nicholas Smit, 39, of Hemet, was charged with three counts of attempted murder of a police officer. Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said Smit was also charged Wednesday with making a booby trap, possession of a zip gun and conspiracy to kill a police officer.
Smit and Steven Hanson, 36, of Homeland, were arrested Friday. They were taken into custody Friday. following a multi-agency investigation that included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.
Hansen also was charged with conspiracy and one count of attempted murder.
Two other suspects are still being sought, and the $200,000 reward for information in the case remains active, according to Hemet police Chief Richard Dana.
On Tuesday, a suspicious device was discovered attached to a Hemet police cruiser parked at the City Yard, 3077 Industrial Ave., according to Hemet police Lt. Duane Wisehart. He said the area was evacuated, and Riverside County sheriff's bomb technicians secured the instrument.
"This device could have been attached to the vehicle at any time in the last 60 days," the lieutenant said. "Investigators believe they have the suspects in these attacks in custody and that this device was simply not discovered until today."
Authorities believe a June 28 arson fire at the Hemet police evidence storage facility was the work of the same individuals responsible for six previous incidents.
The blaze caused significant damage to the building and its contents, including evidence being held for various criminal cases, Wisehart said.
On June 4, someone tried to launch a bazooka rocket with a non-explosive head at the Hemet police station, but the engine fizzled out, and the rocket landed in a garbage pile, igniting it.
On April 12, a fire was lit at the Hemet police shooting range.
On March 23, four city code enforcement trucks were torched in the Hemet City Hall parking lot.
On March 5, a member of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force found a pipe bomb dangling from his unmarked patrol unit when he pulled into a gas station.
On Feb. 23, a member of the task force opened a gate at the task force's headquarters and was nearly struck by a bullet discharged by a homemade ``zip gun,'' rigged to shoot when the gate moved.
The string of attacks started New Year's Eve, when someone rerouted a natural gas line into the task force's headquarters building, setting the stage for a potential explosion.
The Hemet City Council authorized the department in April to supply personnel with all means necessary to combat the attacks and protect themselves.