Local Politics

GPS data reviewed in Orange GOP firebombing probe

Posted March 2

GOP building firebombed, vandalized in Hillsborough
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— Authorities are combing through GPS data to determine who might have been near the Orange County Republican Party headquarters on the night it was firebombed last fall.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown through a front window of the GOP office, at 347 Ja-Max Drive in Hillsborough, in the early hours of Oct. 16, authorities said. Graffiti that included a swastika was spray-painted on an adjacent building.

The fire burned itself out, but the office sustained heavy damage. No injuries were reported.

The State Bureau of Investigation last month obtained GPS data from Google for any cellphone within 150 meters of the property between 1 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, according to a search warrant released Thursday.

The application for the search warrant states that a light blue, older-model Nissan or Toyota Supra was seen parked in the area for about 10 minutes between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m., and "popping and banging sounds" were heard coming from the area between 2 and 3 a.m.

"[L]ocation data can assist investigators in forming a fuller geospatial understanding and timeline related to a specific criminal investigation and may tend to identify potential witnesses and/or suspects," the application states.

The state has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

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