Friday, February 24, 2012

FBI and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Seek Information Regarding Harris Ranch Arson

During the early morning hours of Sunday, January 8, 2012, unidentified offenders cut through a fence at the Harris Feeding Company near Coalinga, California. Once inside, the offenders positioned numerous improvised incendiary devices, or IIDs, beneath tractor trailer rigs parked on the premises. After the offenders fled the area, timers on the IIDs initiated the detonation of each device. The ensuing fires destroyed 14 rigs with an estimated loss in excess of $2,000,000. While no drivers were sleeping in the rigs that night, several Harris Company employees were on site at the time of the detonation and could have easily been seriously injured or killed.

An anonymous claim of responsibility was subsequently released by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, posted on several websites, and delivered to various media outlets.

We are very confident that we will solve this case. Our immediate concern is that the offenders have not yet been identified. They may still have hazardous or flammable materials or may be collecting more materials for another attack. The danger that this presents to all of us in the community cannot be overstated. There is a dramatic risk inherent in the construction and transportation of IIDs and in the collection of the very hazardous materials used to build them. Although the offenders may believe that they are being careful, each moment they spend working with these extremely sensitive and volatile materials places friends, family, neighbors, children, and other members of our community in grave danger. We are also concerned for our emergency first responders, the firefighters and deputy sheriffs who battled the fires at the Harris Company attack. They fortunately were not injured this time, but IIDs are unpredictable and often cause serious injury or death to brave men and women who serve our country and our community.

Based on these very real and urgent concerns, we are calling for the assistance of the public at this time. You or someone you know may possess knowledge of this crime. These offenders may have conducted surveillance and planning before positioning the devices and fleeing. Some of their actions may have drawn the attention and suspicion of members of our community. If you have any information about this attack, please contact us immediately. If you have direct knowledge of this crime but fear retaliation by those involved, there are steps and measures we can take to keep you safe. No one in our community should have to live in fear of these people again.

A substantial reward may be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this attack. Anyone with information is encouraged to please call the Fresno Sheriff’s Office at (559) 260-6530 or Federal Bureau of Investigation at (559) 436-4474.

Media Contacts:

Chris Curtis

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Public Information Officer

(599) 488-5699

Lieutenant Rick Ko

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Special Investigations

(559) 600-8024

Gina Swankie

FBI Sacramento Division, Public Affairs Specialist

(916) 599-2285

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