On the evening of June 30, an explosion occurred inside a police bomb squad disposal truck. According to officials, at least 17 individuals were injured. Arturo Ceja III was arrested on July 3 and faces federal charges for allegedly transporting tons of explosives from out of California, including devices that led to the explosion in the disposal truck.
The Los Angeles Police Department had received a call informing them about illegal fireworks earlier in the day. On arriving at the residence, commercial-grade fireworks stacked about 8-10 feet high were found by the LAPD. In addition, more explosives were found.
At a news conference, LAPD chief Michele Moore stated that the explosion occurred as officers intentionally detonated the improvised devices. The illegal fireworks arrived from outside the state and were meant to be sold around the Fourth of July holiday. Moore also revealed that out of the 17 people who were injured, 10 were responding officers and seven were civilians.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, three of the seven injured civilians sustained major injuries. Federal authorities said that special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrested Ceja on July 3. The South Los Angeles resident, who stocked a large pile of fireworks at home, is accused of transporting explosives without a license or permit.
While Ceja is scheduled to appear in court on July 6, it isn’t clear if he has retained an attorney yet. In a statement on July 3, the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said that in the initial investigation by local authorities, approximately 5,000 pounds of fireworks were found. “However, today the ATF determined that Ceja was storing approximately 32,000 pounds of fireworks in his backyard,” they added.
The US Attorney’s office also mentioned that as per the complaint, the various types of explosives were purchased in Nevada by Ceja in late June.