A firework-related bomb squad detonation in South L.A. may have been caused by a “miscalculation,” according to early investigation findings.
Police Chief Michel Moore held a press conference Monday, saying the weight of the explosives put into the bomb squad’s detonation vessel was not weighed with a scale, but was instead estimated by visual inspection.
The estimation of the total explosives was 16.5 pounds, with the vessel having a capacity to hold up to 25 pounds.
The investigation suggests the weight of the explosive materials was actually 30.25 pounds, exceeding the vessel’s max capacity by more than five pounds.
“The net explosive weight… exceeded the weight amount for that vessel,” Moore said.
The weight error was one of two suspected causes for the explosion, with a vessel malfunction being the other.
LAPD responded to a call of a home holding illegal fireworks. Arturo Ceja III, 26, was charged with transporting explosives without a license after a total of 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were allegedly found in his home on June 30.
Several of the confiscated fireworks were deemed too dangerous to transport, leading the bomb technicians to attempt a safe detonation in the middle of the South L.A. neighborhood where they were confiscated.
Video showed the explosion going through the bomb squad vessel, leaving 17 people hospitalized and destroying multiple homes and vehicles on the block.
“I want to personally express my apologies to every resident, business operator and customer that was traumatically impacted by this incident,” Moore said. “I’m also grateful that this incident did not result in any loss of life, including community members who were senselessly exposed to the danger created by the alleged criminal actions by Arturo Ceja, when he chose to store more than 16 tons of fireworks and illegal explosives at his house.”