Military explosives found in California backyard; neighborhood evacuated

Posted at 3:57 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 17:57:45-04

LAWNDALE, Calif. – A Southern California neighborhood had to evacuate overnight after deputies responding to a suspicious vehicle call late Thursday night found 15 to 30 military explosives – some dating back to World War II – in the backyard of a home, authorities said.

Explosives found in Lawndale home are seen in a photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The call came in about 11 p.m. for the vehicle in the 14700 block of Avis Avenue – which had been parked in front of a home for several hours – with two occupants inside, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated in a news release.

When deputies arrived, they contacted a man and woman inside the vehicle. The man told them he was on parole, prompting deputies to conduct a parole check.

Both occupants were eventually detained after a firearm was found inside the vehicle, the release stated. After, the man told deputies there were additional firearms inside the home.

Deputies then checked the perimeter and encountered what appeared to be military explosives; they also discovered a cache of explosives in the backyard of the residence, the Sheriff’s Department stated.

Authorities began to evacuate the neighborhood as they waited for a bomb squad to arrive; about 75 to 100 residents were impacted by the order, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“They told us that it was a bomb threat and we needed to evacuate immediately,” one resident told KTLA.

Several explosives are seen in the street outside a Lawndale home on Sept. 29, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

Avis Avenue was closed from West 147th Street to 149th Street during the investigation, which continued past noon Friday.

Some of the residents were taken to a local high school for temporary shelter, the Sheriff’s Department stated.

Video from the scene showed some of the devices in the street near a sheriff's vehicle.

The Times said the arsenal appeared to be made up of artillery shells, mortar rounds, large-caliber bullets, grenades, aerial bomb casings and other explosives.

Most of the explosives were found to be inert and transported to a location for safe disposal, according to a news release from the department.

Investigators also discovered a case of military grade ammunition, which was of some concern, the release stated. They were X-raying the ammunition to determine if it could be removed safely.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Officials look through a Lawndale back yard where a cache of weapons was found on Sept. 29, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

Authorities were also going to check the residence for additional weapons, but the search was postponed "due to the hazardous conditions," the release stated.

An arson detail team is at the location and working to safely remove the explosives from the neighborhood and render the area safe.

Explosives found in Lawndale home are seen in a photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

There was no word on when residents would be allowed back into their homes.

It was not immediately clear how the cache of weapons ended up at the location. Sheriff's officials said the home was vacated and appeared to be inhabited by transients.

Meanwhile, the man who was detained was subsequently arrested on suspicion of possessing a loaded firearm and was taken to the sheriff's South L.A. Station for booking, according to the release. His name was not immediately released.

The detained woman was released.

Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 323-881-7500. Those who prefer to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).