17 Are Wounded After Seized Explosives Blow Up in Los Angeles

by Msnbctv news staff

Seventeen people, including 10 law enforcement officers, were wounded on Wednesday when a police bomb-squad trailer containing improvised explosives blew up in South Los Angeles, the authorities said. One man was taken into custody and charged.

Three civilians suffered moderate injuries and another three suffered minor injuries, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement late Wednesday. Nine police officers and one agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suffered minor injuries. One other person was hurt but was not taken to the hospital. No deaths were reported.

Around noon on Wednesday an anonymous call was placed to the authorities reporting fireworks at the rear of a home in South Los Angeles, said William Cooper, a public information officer for the Los Angeles Police Department.

The officers found over 5,000 pounds of fireworks behind a home, Mr. Cooper said, and a bomb squad was called to the scene.

After removing the fireworks to a “safe location,” some improvised explosives were located, the Fire Department said. About 10 pounds of explosives were placed inside a specialized vehicle for detonation, and video on Twitter later showed the parked truck exploding on a residential street, sending debris into the air and damaging nearby cars.

Several surrounding homes were also affected and were being evaluated by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the Fire Department said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said on Twitter that he was monitoring the situation and that he was “deeply concerned” for those who were wounded.

“I’ve directed the LAPD to conduct a full investigation into this incident, so we can better understand why this happened,” he posted.

The man taken into custody, Arturo Cejas III, was charged with possession of destructive devices. He was being held on $500,000 bail, said Mr. Cooper, the public information officer.

At least one child was taken away from the home where the fireworks were found and was placed with the Department of Children and Family Services, he said, adding that the authorities were seeking additional charges for child endangerment.

While the exact cause of the explosion is under investigation, fireworks are illegal in the City of Los Angeles.

City officials on Wednesday held the first firework buyback program in an effort to curb illegal fireworks. People could anonymously surrender fireworks in exchange for gifts.

Monica Rodriguez, a councilwoman for the Seventh District, said in a Facebook post that fireworks could not only inflict physical harm and trauma on people and pets, but that, during fire season, they could also pose a threat to public safety.

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