• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Police: Firecracker caused San Pedro blast

October 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A large firecracker was the source of a blast that prompted the evacuation of a San Pedro hotel Sunday, authorities said. An M-80 explosive device went off at around the same time a sport utility vehicle was vandalized in the area, said Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Michael Downing. Investigators initially thought the vehicle was the source of the blast.

The blast sent police scrambling to evacuate the hotel at 111 S. Gaffey St. and its surrounding neighborhood.

Bomb squads were sent into the garage where the car was vandalized.

A witness reported a blast at around 7:30 a.m. Responding officers did not find anything at first, but a Port Police officer soon found a Lincoln Navigator in the hotel's underground parking lot with broken glass and other damage, which police at first thought was indicative of an explosion.

Upon further investigation, authorities no longer believe it was a bomb that shattered the car's windows and lodged a small hole in the car door.

"On closer inspection and using their training, bomb squad is confident the damage was caused by something other than a bomb. Based on what we know now, they're scaling the operation way back," said LAPD Lt. John Romero. "There's any variety of things that can sound like a bomb or a blast, particularly in a subterranean environment. The danger has passed."

Downing said investigators ruled out any connection to terrorism. No arrests were made.

Romero said the case has been classified as vandalism and that detectives will use evidence from the SUV and surveillance tape to figure out what happened.

According to authorities, there were no reports of injuries or damage to the hotel located about a mile west of the Long Beach Harbor.

"I was in the shwoer and it heard what sounded like a loud gunshot," said Lisa Clark, who was evacuated from the hotel. "The whole shower shook."

The car is owned by San Jose resident Kent Whitman, who had returned on Sunday from a week-long cruise in Mexico. Whitman told reporters that his GPS device was the only item missing from his car.

The Los Angeles Fire Department was on the scene to assist the LAPD, who set up a command post at Gaffey at Second streets. A bomb squad armed with robots was also at the scene.

Surrounding streets and blocks were cordoned off as authorities investigated the incident. California Highway Patrol closed the intersection of Gaffey Street at the 110 Freeway. CHP also closed several lanes on the southbound 110 at Gaffey Street. All roads were reopened around 11:15 a.m.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


Load Comments