Sunday, October 10, 2010
Police have said that an explosion in a hotel garage in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, that sparked an evacuation of a large area was an act of vandalism. What was initially thought to be an explosion, at around 7:30am local time, forced police to shut off a major entrance into the area prompted the Clarion Inn, a two-story hotel, and surrounding buildings to be evacuated. A bomb squad were called to the scene, and an armored robot was sent into the garage to examine the scene.
Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant John Romero said that investigators were treating the incident as an act of vandalism, and said that detectives will be examining surveillance footage of the garage. He confirmed that a caller had reported an explosion in the area. Officers who responded did not initially find anything suspicious, but a short time later a Port Police officer on patrol discovered a Lincoln Navigator with its windows blown out in an underground garage. The Los Angeles Fire Department also responded to the call.
"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," he said. "There's any variety of things that can sound like a bomb or a blast, particularly in a subterranean environment. The danger has passed." He refused to speculate as to what may have caused the damage, or, if it was not a bomb, where the noise had come from. He added: "Now that the robots have gone forward and had a good look, we are confidant there was not an explosion. There was a hole blown in the door, and the glass was blown out so, now we have to find out who did it."
A witness, the owner of a diner two blocks away from the hotel, said that he heard a loud sound while preparing the day's menu. He said: "I was cooking my food and I heard something like 'boom'! I said, 'What happened?' And I checked everything in the kitchen but saw nothing. An hour later I went outside and saw a lot of police." Romero added that the vehicle had shown signs of an explosion and that no one in the hotel was killed or injured. At 8:20 a.m. the police issued a citywide tactical alert and surrounding streets were closed to the public. Police have said that there is shattered glass surrounding the vehicle and one of the doors exhibits evidence that an explosion had taken place. Romero added: "We still want to be very careful how to proceed. Something did happen to the car. Now they have to figure out what happened and who did it."
== Sources ==
Josh Grossberg. "Blast forces evacuation at San Pedro hotel" — Contra Costa Times, October 10, 2010
Tori Richards. "Vandalized SUV sparks car bomb explosion scare at San Pedro hotel" — New York Daily News, October 10, 2010
"Police investigate SUV blast near LA-area harbor" — AP, October 10, 2010
"U.S. police investigate SUV explosion in south California" — Xinhuanet, October 10, 2010
"Police investigate SUV blast near LA-area harbor" — Kens 5, October 10, 2010
Associated Press. "Police investigate SUV blast near LA-area harbor" — Cape Cod Times, October 10, 2010
"Cops Investigate SUV Explosion Near San Pedro Harbor" — KTLA, October 10, 2010