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The makeshift bunker beneath a recently-displaced Fountain Valley homeless encampment was big enough for a grown person to stand inside, replete with wood-paneled walls and a support beam, and accessible only via a small hatch camouflaged to blend in with its dirt surroundings.
The half-loaded .357 Magnum found near the same camp, along the Santa Ana River, contained three empty shell casings – meaning it had been fired.
Bicycles - Channel - Tunnel - System - Santa
And the 1,000 bicycles discovered hidden away in the flood-control channel’s dark tunnel system in Santa Ana, two miles north of the encampment, could suggest a large-scale theft ring.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies and public employees said they uncovered unusual and dangerous conditions in the recently cleared homeless camps on the riverbed in Fountain Valley and in portions of the river to the north. The findings, they said, posed public safety risks and indicated that the area was rife with crime.
Data - Element - Homeless - Encampments - Sheriff
“It just backs up the data that we’ve collected, which says there is a significant criminal element in the homeless encampments,” sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Puckett said.
The sheriff’s department provided no evidence linking the gun or bicycles to any individuals living in the Fountain Valley encampment but said the investigation is ongoing.
County - Employees - Bunker - Wednesday - Nov
County employees discovered the bunker Wednesday, Nov. 16, as part of a cleanup effort after the county forced about 200 people to move out of the area five days earlier.
The cavern’s hatch was concealed beneath a thin layer of dirt. But once workers opened the plywood trapdoor, they found a series of wooden steps that took them six feet underground, to a reinforced, 10-foot-by-10-foot room big enough for a 5-foot-7-inch person to stand upright.
Officials - Bunker
Officials don’t know how the bunker was built or who used it.
“We’re not sure what (the room) was for – probably some type of living situation,” Puckett said. “It’s nothing I’ve ever...
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