Safety Violations Lead to Explosion at LA County Sheriff’s Mobile Shooting Range, Resulting in Deputy’s Death and Fines of $301,000

Los Angeles, California – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is facing significant fines for safety violations that resulted in a deadly explosion at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. The explosion took place in a mobile shooting range on October 10, 2023, leaving four individuals injured. Sadly, Deputy Alfredo “Freddy” Flores passed away six months after the incident due to the injuries sustained that day.

After the tragedy, authorities highlighted that safety lapses within the range were major factors contributing to the explosion and subsequent fire. Sheriff Robert Luna emphasized the importance of investigating the incident thoroughly to prevent future occurrences. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) conducted an inspection and issued five workplace citations, recommending fines totaling $301,000.

Cal/OSHA’s report revealed multiple violations by the sheriff’s department, including a lack of proper record-keeping, failure to address workplace hazards, and neglecting necessary preventive maintenance on the shooting range. Inspectors noted that the accumulation of combustible material in the facility, coupled with a lack of adherence to manufacturer recommendations, directly led to the explosion that claimed Deputy Flores’ life.

The report also uncovered potential hazards at another facility within the Men’s Central Jail in Downtown LA, underscoring the need for enhanced safety protocols. The sheriff’s department challenged the citations issued by Cal/OSHA, asserting its commitment to personnel safety while the investigation into the range fire continued. As a precaution, all mobile ranges were temporarily closed following the incident.

In response to the closure of mobile ranges, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department adapted by utilizing alternative law enforcement ranges for firearm qualifications. The significant fines and safety violations serve as a stark reminder of the importance of upholding safety standards in all law enforcement operations to prevent tragic incidents like the one that occurred in Castaic. Moving forward, authorities must prioritize safety to protect the lives of law enforcement personnel.