Marines with explosives cause CA mall evacuation

AP News
Posted: Apr 06, 2012 5:53 PM
Marines with explosives cause CA mall evacuation

Military officials on Friday were trying to determine why two off-duty Marines left their desert base with 10 explosive training devices in their truck and went to a Los Angeles-area shopping mall, causing three large stores to be evacuated.

The South Bay Galleria was evacuated Thursday night after Marine Corps officials called police to report that two Marines were driving a pickup truck and had explosives, Redondo Beach police said. A Marine who knew the two had left the base with the explosives told his chain of command, said Marine Capt. Nick Mannweiler.

The Marines, identified as Pvt. Thomas Bazer, 20, and Lance Cpl. Devin Gajewski, 22, acknowledged having the explosives, authorities said. They were in military custody Friday.

A bomb squad from the Los Angeles County sheriff's office found 10 devices that are used in artillery simulations.

The non-lethal explosives make a loud whistling sound and then a thunderous boom, and are used in combat training, Mannweiler said.

"Bottom line is these guys were not supposed to have them," Mannweiler told The Associated Press. "We're still trying to find out why they did."

Bazer works as a field radio operator and joined the Marine Corps in 2011, Mannweiler said. Gajewski works as a tank crewman and his service ends in July. They are stationed at Twentynine Palms, about 180 miles northeast of the mall in a remote desert.

The Marines were on leave for the Easter weekend, Mannweiler said. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is handling the case.

Spokesman Ed Buice of the Naval investigative service said it does not appear the men had any malicious intent.