‘Miscalculation` Resulted in Fireworks Explosion in South Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Department miscalculated the amount of fireworks placed into a containment vessel, resulting in a massive explosion that damaged several residences in South Los Angeles, according to a report released tonight.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Hoffman told residents Monday night the LAPD's containment vessel was designed to handle repeated detonations of 19 pounds of TNT equivalent at a time or a single detonation of 33 pounds of explosives before being returned to its manufacturer for analysis, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hoffman said LAPD bomb technicians accidentally loaded 39.8 pounds of explosives June 30, according to The Times.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore also attended the meeting and said the department will no longer use a total containment vessel to detonate fireworks in residential locations, The Times reported.

The department will also require that all explosives the bomb squad attempts to detonate will be weighed first, and “checks and balances” will be put in place to ensure those calculations are correct, Moore said.

City Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr. who represents the area the explosion took place, said the report “confirms what we already knew – the negligence at the hands of the LAPD showed zero regard for our community.

“As trained professionals in one of the largest police departments in America, I still cannot fathom how the LAPD thought it was acceptable to merely eyeball unstable explosives in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood,'' Price said.

“Since Day One, I have called for an independent investigation and accountability of all those involved. Now, it's up to the LAPD to face the consequences of this colossal failure and do right by our neighbors once and for all.''

Police attempted to dispose of some of the approximately 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks they discovered on June 30 by detonating them in an armored container near the 700 block of East 27th Street. But the force of the explosion destroyed the container and damaged several residences and cars.

Arturo Ceja III, 27, a resident of East 27th Street, was arrested and charged with illegally transporting tons of explosives. Ceja planned to sell the fireworks throughout the neighborhood in celebration of the Fourth of July, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ceja pleaded not guilty today to the federal charges on Aug 17.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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