LAWNDALE (CBSLA) — A large number of military weaponry was found in the backyard of a vacant home in Lawndale late Thursday night, prompting the evacuation of 100 people from neighboring homes for 13 hours and counting Friday.
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s bomb squad remains on the scene Friday, hours after they were called out to the 15700 block of Avis Avenue, near Prairie Avenue and the border with Hawthorne, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Kimberly Alexander said.
About 15 to 30 bombs, artillery shells, mortars and grenades were found and removed, some of which were inert, but others were still active. The cache included large, artillery-like shells. Several more are being examined on the property. Military-grade ammunition and ordnances from World War II were also found in a shed.
The evacuations remained in place Friday afternoon while LASD hazmat crews scoured the property for more weapons. LASD officials told CBS2 that crews had reportedly cleared the property of ordnances as of 2 p.m., and that city code enforcement inspectors were responding to deal with the vacant home. Officials did not say when the evacuation order would be lifted.
Avis Avenue was closed between 147th Street, 149th Street and Prairie Avenue. No injuries had been reported.
Some residents were taken by bus to Leuzinger High School’s cafeteria as a temporary shelter, while others opted to wait on the sidewalk just outside the police perimeter. The shelter was then moved to the Lawndale Community Center at 14717 Burin Ave.
“It was kind of scary, going through your mind,” neighbor Delma Garcia said. “You’re like, trying to get your family out and get to a safe place.”
Deputies were first called to the neighborhood on the report of two suspicious people in a car. They found a man and a woman — possible squatters — at the home. The man, a parolee, said he got a gun from the home and told the deputies about the explosives in the backyard. He was arrested on charges of felon in possession of a loaded firearm. He is not linked to the weapons found on the property, LASD said.
Neighbors told CBS2 a veteran used to live at the home. It was now being occupied by transients, deputies said.