Professional-Grade Explosives Shot at Rec Center

Fireworks explosions are a frequent occurrence at the Palisades Rec Center.

CTN received a frightening fireworks report that occurred the night of February 23 at the Rec Center.

“My daughter and I were leaving the park last night around 8:15, when a firework went off in the gully between the library and the playground,” the resident wrote. “This firework hit the trees when it went off, but I think due to the wet conditions the tree did not ignite.

“As we made our way to the car, someone threw a mortal-style firework at the large group of girls in the playground area. It exploded and sent flames toward myself and my 10-year-old.

“As the girls were running away from the fireworks, I noticed one who tripped hard and fell to the ground. She seemed ok although flames were all around her.

“I had to move out of the way of some of the sparks coming down that were all over the parking lot,” the resident said, and added, “There were two very sketchy 24–30-year-olds smoking in the parking lot and watching the 13-16-year-old young girls that were at the park.

The resident said it was “it was first time I felt unsafe as a parent at Palisades Recreation Center in 10 years, not because of a physical threat from someone, but because exploding flames shooting in all directions within 30 feet of unsuspecting people is assault with a deadly weapon possibly causing irreparable harm.”

The resident said that most young kids were enjoying their Friday night running around the Palisades, feeling free from parents’ supervision, playing basketball, chatting with friends and watching Pony baseball.

“It’s probably a group of two to four kids that are in need of desperate attention that are causing these issues,” the resident said.

Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin said in a February 24 email to the resident, “I am sorry to hear about the incident in the park yesterday. I was there all afternoon and early evening. I had just left the park and headed back to the station around 7:30 p.m. Once the patrol car leaves the kids act out.

“I had confiscated pepper spray from a kid and delt with two electric motorcycles earlier,” Espin said. “From talking with some of the kids. There are quite a few that come to the Palisades from neighboring areas (Santa Monica, Brentwood, Culver City). I agree that the lack of supervision by some parents are contributing factors.”

Another resident reported that a group of about 30 youth went over to Ralphs at around 9 p.m. and tried to force their way into the market.

One resident suggested having two officers sitting in an unmarked car and ID’ing kids, because “the kids are smart enough to wait to see the black and white police car drive away.”

Someone suggested that perhaps locals on walkie talkies could figure out who the kids are and get a few pictures because “this community would quickly ID who is doing it.”

CTN ran a story about teens shooting off professional-grade explosives at the Rec Center on January 15. :…than-enforcement/ ‎ The story was written by Chaz Plager, who found a teen shooting  fireworks and interviewed him.

CTN: So, why exactly is this fun to you?
Teen: (Laughing) What? What kind of guy doesn’t like explosions? It’s awesome. One time, my buddy got too close to the fireworks, and it set him on fire. We videoed him rolling around and screaming. It’s great.
Is he okay?
Oh yeah, of course. We wouldn’t let him die or anything.
Okay, but why set it off in public areas?
Keeps the property value down.
Are you aware of the risks of setting off fireworks?
Oh my God. “Erm, don’t you know this really badass thing is super dangerous?” Of course I do! That’s why it’s sick. You know, like the Spartans had tests of courage and stuff.
You see yourself as modern-day Spartans?
What? Uh… Yeah, you know what? Totally, dude. We’re the new age Spartans. No pussy shit here. We ride or die like real men.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to the adults who are “sick of your antics”?

What’re you mad about? You’re rich. “Waah, the property value!” Shut up. Spend a night in the hood, see how good you got it. Over there, you know it’s gunshots, not fireworks. Try it. Put some real hair on your chest.

Once you understand these teens, you understand they need oversight and possibly community service as a deterrent. Parents need to be aware that the kids setting off fireworks could result in massive costs to them in the form of life or property.



This criminal behavior of a few teens has been going on for more than a year. People initially suggested that the police should be there and arrest the juveniles.

But there is a shortage of police and not enough to allow for the luxury of sitting and waiting at the park for hours. Additionally, if one juvenile were to be arrested, under the current DA, who handles all juvenile cases, most are not charged.


Technically, the Rec Center is under jurisdiction of Park Rangers, but as At-Large Area Representative Chris Spitz wrote in a February 24 email that “there are 450 L.A. City Parks and only 40 or so rangers. Recruitment is down due to unfavorable/unsafe conditions, and rangers not allowed to be armed, etc.”


Recreation and Park (RAP) officials have spoken to Community Council President Maryam Zar, who is also a member of the Park Advisory Board and given her the name of an approved security company the community could hire. She is waiting for a cost analysis.


There has been an ongoing discussion about placing security cameras, funded by this community, in the park. Zar and Vice President Sue Kohl spoke with RAP about the possibility. A city official came to the park and walked through the area. He told Zar that the electrical infrastructure was not available at this park (needed to be upgraded). He also said that any cameras/security would have to come through an approved vendor.


This editor has suggested that a reward be given to the person(s), who can identify who are setting off the fireworks. That person(s) could be anonymous. Once the teens are discovered, the parents could be spoken to, and possibly some sort of counseling, community service be rendered.


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3 Responses to Professional-Grade Explosives Shot at Rec Center

  1. Trish Sobul says:

    Two things… I just watched a documentary on use of drones. Maximize LAPD manpower by using drones for surveillance.
    Secondly, it’s disturbing to hear that kids are coming from far outside the area. Do I need to remind people that was the downfall of Westwood Village? It became a place where no one felt safe.

  2. Krishna Thangavelu says:

    The pattern of these events appears to be on Friday and Saturday nights. This has been happening for quite some time, perhaps over a year?

    This problem is not going to miraculously end. Sensitive public spaces have to be patrolled on these busy weekend nights. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for active and sustained weekend patrol to become viable.

    It’s like waiting to see how sick a patient has to be before the appropriate medicine is administered. The patient is predictably bleeding out on Friday and Saturday nights and the community is waiting and every right to be alarmed.

  3. Palisades Parent says:

    Everyone in the community who sends their kids to this rec center for sports should know what is going on there, particularly on Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings. We have witnessed the explosions in person, and felt the embers, as we stood by the small gym waiting for basketball to finish. The entire gym shook. We have provided footage of these occurrences to our local patrol and yet the same activity happens 2-3 nights a week. Please don’t suggest installing security cameras because we already have the footage, but it doesn’t matter if the police will do nothing about it. No enforcement, no deterrent, and the criminal activity will only continue to escalate.

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