A national response team with the ATF is combing through the remains of an LAPD bomb disposal vehicle. They want to know how the police blew up a South LA neighborhood last week, accidentally on purpose. The timing on this catastrophe couldn’t have been planned any better. The bomb squad for the city of Los Angeles celebrated the Fourth of July with one heck of a blast.
ATF digging deep
The Ministry of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, otherwise known as “ATF,” arrived quickly at the scene after the explosion wounded one of their own, along with ten other law enforcement officers and seven civilians. It all happened Wednesday evening, June 30.
The major explosion rocked the city and damaged homes, stores, and vehicles for blocks. The cops meant to detonate the IED’s but weren’t expecting the results. Local authorities are still tight lipped but a lot more has been revealed since then and the owner of the explosives is in custody.
On Friday, ATF Assistant Special Officer in Charge Michael Hoffman held a press briefing where he confirmed that after getting a tip, police showed up at a home in the 700 block of East 27th Street Wednesday afternoon and quickly discovered “about 5,000 pounds of illegal commercial fireworks.”
#BreakingNews LAPD Bomb techs trying to safety dispose of several Improvised Fireworks inside the Dept Total Containment Vessel miscalculated and resulting blast destroyed containment sphere and blew out windows for blocks. At least 3 people transported. @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/AEOUw60fwH
— Pete Demetriou (@knxpete) July 1, 2021
They didn’t notice that there were tons more out in the back yard. Over 32,000 pounds worth, in cases stacked up to 10 feet high. Some were stored next to the barbecue grill. Some of what they found was homemade and considered too touchy to move safely.
ATF arrested 27-year-old Arturo Cejas III and are tacking extra charges for endangering the life of his 10-year-old brother. According to the complaint, “Ceja made several trips to Nevada in late June to purchase various types of explosives – including aerial displays and large homemade fireworks.”
Ceja told police he “purchased the homemade explosives from an individual selling the devices out of the trunk of a Honda in the Area 51 parking lot,” in Pahrump, Nevada.
— Ryder Christ (@RyderChristNews) July 1, 2021
Total catastrophic failure
The ATF and LA Bomb Squad didn’t want to endanger the locals by transporting “40 soda can-sized items” and 200 smaller ‘M’ class items, “each with a short fuse and unknown firepower.”
The “materials were not safe to transport due to risk of detonation in a densely populated area and therefore would be destroyed on scene using a total containment vessel.” Instead they endangered the neighborhood by blowing them up. They stuffed about 10 pounds worth of the devices “inside a spherical iron containment vessel on a tractor-trailer” parked on the street outside.
Shocking new detail on today’s fireworks detonation gone awry: LAPD thinks the top of that armored container device flew TWO BLOCKS to the East, smashing part of a roof before hitting the dirt. The top of that device reportedly weights as much as one TON (center of pic) @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/uss3l1Z2fH
— Desmond Shaw (@RoadSageLA) July 1, 2021
It was anything but a “controlled” detonation. “During the destruction of the devices, the entire TCV exploded, causing a massive blast radius.” Television choppers and crews on the ground note shattered windows “shrapnel up to three blocks away.” The “one-ton lid of the vessel flew into a backyard two blocks away, breaking a lemon tree and damaging the house.”
Experts relate that the unexpected result “could have been the result of human error — such as not correctly sealing the vessel or over-loading it with material — or a defect in the equipment like a micro-fissure that has grown with time and use. Or both.” ATF say they’ll let everyone know as soon as they figure it out.
LAPD provided these photos of the homemade fireworks that were seized last night in South LA. They exploded during what was supposed to a controlled detonation, injuring 17 people. @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/VBkJ86KlKj
— Tina Patel (@tina_patel) July 1, 2021
LAPD Chief Michel Moore has some advice for residents afraid to answer the door because a cop is knocking. “officers tried to evacuate residents from the area before the explosion, but some did not answer their doors. The injured civilians reportedly came from those homes.”
The ATF will get to the bottom of it but there is no doubt, Moore admits, that there was “a total catastrophic failure of that containment vehicle.” City accountants aren’t happy. “A spokesman for the department said the truck cost at least $1 million.”