Residents in a neighborhood not far from Downtown Santa Monica were rocked out of bed at 6:45 a.m. on April 7 by the sound of an explosion. Shortly thereafter, Santa Monica Police evacuated everyone within four blocks of where the blast erupted. It just so happens that this site was next to the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica, a Jewish place of worship located at 1428 17th Street.
What followed was a media frenzy of misinformation from coast to coast as reports ran rampant that a Jewish temple had been the target of a bomb. Sources as prominent as the LA Times, CNN, and NBC declared that a hate crime had been perpetrated. Even the local media outlets were on the bandwagon. Despite a flurry of media reports to the contrary, no bombs or evidence of a bomb was found.
“It was not a result of a pipe bomb or anything like that, it was a mechanical failure – we’re trying to determine what exactly that mechanical failure was – but it was not a deliberate or incendiary device,” Santa Monica Police Sgt. Jay Trisler told the Mirror that morning.
Authorities believe that some sort of underground mechanical object built up pressure until it exploded. Reports on the scene indicate that this explosion launched a large steel pipe, rooted in concrete, through the walls of a two-story building and caused it to fly flew 25 feet into the air before crashing through the roof of a residence.
Eyewitnesses reported that the Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad, along with the FBI, assisted the Santa Monica Police Department at the crime scene. As of press time, authorities were still uncertain of the cause of the explosion, although it was described as a “freak industrial accident” by a Santa Monica Fire Department official.
Nonetheless, as a precaution, police evacuated the neighborhood surrounding the scene, which spanned from 15th Street to 18th Street on the west and east, and from Santa Monica Boulevard on the north and Colorado Avenue on the south. A space for evacuees was set up at the Police Activities League gymnasium on the corner of 14th Street and Olympic Boulevard as authorities continued their investigation and secured the area. The American Red Cross of Santa Monica provided canteen services (refreshments) at the site.
At the time of this post, no injuries were reported, but details were still emerging. Check back to smmirror.com for more updates.