Wednesday, December 8

Los Angeles Bomb Squad “Very Misjudged” Weight of Fireworks in Large Explosion | the Angels


Los Angeles bomb technicians misjudged the weight of homemade fireworks last month when they detonated them in a containment chamber, likely causing a catastrophic explosion that injured 17 people and shook a neighborhood, the head of the fireworks said Monday. policeman.

Police Chief Michel Moore said five members of the department’s bomb squad have been removed from their field duties as the investigation continues. They could face discipline.

The blast, which damaged dozens of homes, businesses and vehicles just days before July 4, was highly unusual, officials say, because such containment chambers are designed to contain explosions. However, the bomb’s technicians overloaded it above the safety rating, even as authorities are investigating whether the detonation device had a defect.

The incident has prompted the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI to review police protocols on the detonation of explosives. The police department now requires a captain to approve the detonations, in addition to the two bomb technicians and a supervisor who are already required.

Neighborhood residents called for accountability and asked why some people were still in their homes, despite a door-to-door evacuation order. It is illegal to sell or possess fireworks in Los Angeles and in unincorporated areas of the county.

Moore announced the preliminary findings of the investigation during a news conference Monday. The Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter and other organizations will hold their own press conference on Tuesday to demand more responses and reparations for residents who were injured in the blast. Some victims have filed precursor lawsuits against the city.

Two police officers are outside a red building with a sign that says
The windows of a building in Los Angeles blew out after police set off the fireworks they seized. Photograph: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / REX / Shutterstock

Nine police officers and a federal agent were among the injured.

The explosion came after police spent the day discarding thousands of pounds of commercial-grade fireworks that were found in a South Los Angeles home after an early morning warning. Those fireworks were detonated at an off-site location.

Police arrested resident Arturo Ceja, 26, on suspicion of possession of a destructive device. Police believe the fireworks were purchased in Nevada and brought to Los Angeles to be sold in the neighborhood for use on July 4.

Ceja was released on a $ 500,000 bond and is due to return to court in October. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Officers also found homemade fireworks in the home that were leaking and the bomb squad decided to detonate them in the neighborhood, believing they were too unstable to transport elsewhere. They were X-ray and robotically examined and loaded into the detonation chamber, officially called a total containment vessel.

Pump technicians, without using a scale, as allowed by Los Angeles police procedures to avoid additional handling of unstable devices, estimated the weight of homemade explosives and a counterload at approximately 16.5 pounds (7, 5 kg). Federal authorities who weighed the debris after the blast calculated that the weight was actually more than 42 pounds (19 kg). The maximum capacity of the detonation chamber is 15 pounds (6.8 kg) for multiple uses or 25 pounds (11 kg) for single use, Moore said.

The department is also analyzing the practices of bomb squads across the country to see if their standards are up to date. If the Los Angeles bomb squad is found to have been following police department protocol but, in fact, the department’s procedures turn out to be inaccurate, Moore said the technicians will not be disciplined.


www.theguardian.com

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