Bunker and 1,000 Bikes Found At Homeless Encampment (Photos)

Bunker and 1,000 Bikes Found At Homeless Encampment (Photos) Promo Image

Orange County officials have made surprising discoveries while clearing out homeless encampments along California's Santa Ana River.

Among the findings were an underground bunker, a loaded gun, and a tunnel with over 1,000 bicycles inside, according to KTLA. The county has cleared more than 150 homeless people from the area after residents complained about unsanitary conditions.

The cleanup and maintenance project started on Nov. 10, according to KABC. Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Puckett said that Public Works was working on clearing out debris, including needles, from the trail along the river. The cleanup, Puckett said, could take Public Works several more weeks.

"With the enhanced enforcement and outreach that we've been doing over the last two and a half months, [it's] showing that there is a high criminal presence in these encampments," Puckett said.

Puckett also discussed the loaded gun found in the area: "[The] handgun was a .357 Magnum," he said. "The thing of interest with that was there were three expended shell casings in the cylinder, and that's currently under investigation."

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Other discoveries, like the bunker, also surprised deputies and residents, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The underground bunker was reportedly empty when it was discovered. It lay beneath a plywood trap door leading to a 10-by-10 foot living space tall enough to stand up in.

"We're not sure what [the room] was for," said Puckett, according to the Orange County Register, "probably some type of living situation."

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"Nothing like guns, trash and needles would shock me, but the fact someone had a whole downstairs living arrangement ... it's weird that they built it without us knowing," said Kris Gillan, a resident at a nearby condominium.

The tunnel full of bicycles is also being investigated by police, who hope to reunite any stolen bicycles with their owners.

"I've been doing this job for 20 years, and even I was stunned by that one," said Puckett of the bicycle collection.

"Common sense would usually dictate if you have 1,000 bikes in a tunnel, some of them could be stolen," he added.

"I'm not surprised at any of these things they found, other than the bunker," added Gillan. "This is why we tried and tried to get [sheriff's deputies and Fountain Valley] out there, but nothing was done for a long, long time."

"I feel safer now that they're gone," said Gillan of the homeless population, who she said had often been seen looking into parked cars in the area. "But how did it get this bad? I hope the county has learned their lesson."

Orange County's board of supervisors has voted to hire unarmed security guards to report trespassers and open and close the gates along the trail.

Sources: KTLA, KABC, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register / Featured Image: Steven Lilley/Flickr / Embedded Images: Orange County Sheriff's Department via Orange County Register

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