News

Police confiscate over 1,300 pounds of fireworks in East Palo Alto

Officers also make 9 arrests as a result of multiple investigations

More than 145 pounds of fireworks were found during a search warrant served in the 400 block of Wisteria Drive in East Palo Alto. Courtesy East Palo Alto Police Department.

A series of operations to tamp down on illegal fireworks in East Palo Alto led police officers to confiscate 1,304 pounds of the devices and arrest nine people over the course of June and July, according to a report released this week.

The city, as elsewhere throughout the Bay Area and the country, has struggled with an unprecedented fireworks problem since early May as people sought to relieve their boredom and community fireworks shows were canceled due to stay-at-home orders as the number of COVID-19 cases grow. From May 1 through July 5, the department received 944 calls regarding fireworks compared to 243 calls during the same time in 2019 — a 288% increase — according to police data. ShotSpotter activations, which measure gunfire, recorded eight incidents this year compared to three last year.

The fireworks seizures prevented 25,164 discharges. Police also seized 7 pounds of marijuana and two firearms, according to the Police Department report.

The city's Fireworks Task Force Team of two officers and a sergeant had support from the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, state Division of Adult Parole Operations, San Mateo County Probation Department and other law enforcement agencies. They issued six search warrants and two probation searches and made one traffic stop, altogether confiscating 704 pounds of fireworks. The latter alone netted more than 110 pounds. In addition, on July 4, law enforcement confiscated about 600 pounds of illegal fireworks on the streets.

The warrants and probation searches also uncovered an M-80 explosive, a handgun with high-capacity magazines and 5 pounds of marijuana, including marijuana edibles. Four of the nine people arrested were also taken in for allegedly making felony threats or assaulting officers. One of the individuals made a threat after being approached over a single, already discharged "President's Series" firework emblazoned with a presidential seal showing a figure with hair similar to President Donald Trump.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Under California health and safety codes, possession of a gross weight of fireworks under 25 pounds, including packaging, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.

The quantities seized in many of these arrests rise to the level of felonies, however, which can carry sentences of up to three years in state prison and up to $50,000 fines.

Here is a breakdown of the seizures and arrests

Warrants:

• 2400 block of Fordham Street: 106.86 pounds of fireworks and one arrest.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

• 400 block of Wisteria Drive: 145.35 pounds of fireworks, 5 pounds of marijuana and one arrest.

• 2200 block of Euclid Avenue: 77.36 pounds of fireworks, one explosive device, one firearm, thousands of dollars in cash and three arrests.

• 400 block of Garden Street: 74.1 pounds of fireworks and one arrest.

• 2300 block Palo Verde Avenue: Multiple spent fireworks found in a trash receptacle and no arrests.

• 2200 block University Avenue: One discharged firework and one arrest for threatening officers.

Probation searches:

• 2300 block of Dumbarton Avenue: 190 pounds of fireworks, case referred to the District Attorney's Office.

• 600 block of Runnymede Street: One fireworks device and one arrest.

Vehicle stops:

• 1700 block of Bay Road: fireworks: 110.93 pounds -- 1 arrest

East Palo Alto police officers located nearly 107 pounds of fireworks in the 2400 block of Fordham Street, where they served a search warrant. Courtesy East Palo Alto Police Department.

The July 4 fireworks suppression resulted in the confiscation of 600 pounds of fireworks, a firearm, 2 pounds of marijuana and no arrests.

East Palo Alto police Chief Al Pardini indicated during a June 29 tri-city community forum of police and fire chiefs and elected leaders from East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto that he would release data on the investigations after July 4. The chiefs and city officials said that the Fourth of July actions would be only part of an ongoing effort in the coming months to try to change the culture around massive fireworks displays by residents and celebratory gunfire, which have caused injuries and property damage.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said this week that fireworks caused a detached garage fire in eastern Menlo Park. In a separate incident, a 20-year-old man was injured by glass after fireworks were set off in a bottle.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Police confiscate over 1,300 pounds of fireworks in East Palo Alto

Officers also make 9 arrests as a result of multiple investigations

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 10, 2020, 5:26 pm

A series of operations to tamp down on illegal fireworks in East Palo Alto led police officers to confiscate 1,304 pounds of the devices and arrest nine people over the course of June and July, according to a report released this week.

The city, as elsewhere throughout the Bay Area and the country, has struggled with an unprecedented fireworks problem since early May as people sought to relieve their boredom and community fireworks shows were canceled due to stay-at-home orders as the number of COVID-19 cases grow. From May 1 through July 5, the department received 944 calls regarding fireworks compared to 243 calls during the same time in 2019 — a 288% increase — according to police data. ShotSpotter activations, which measure gunfire, recorded eight incidents this year compared to three last year.

The fireworks seizures prevented 25,164 discharges. Police also seized 7 pounds of marijuana and two firearms, according to the Police Department report.

The city's Fireworks Task Force Team of two officers and a sergeant had support from the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, state Division of Adult Parole Operations, San Mateo County Probation Department and other law enforcement agencies. They issued six search warrants and two probation searches and made one traffic stop, altogether confiscating 704 pounds of fireworks. The latter alone netted more than 110 pounds. In addition, on July 4, law enforcement confiscated about 600 pounds of illegal fireworks on the streets.

The warrants and probation searches also uncovered an M-80 explosive, a handgun with high-capacity magazines and 5 pounds of marijuana, including marijuana edibles. Four of the nine people arrested were also taken in for allegedly making felony threats or assaulting officers. One of the individuals made a threat after being approached over a single, already discharged "President's Series" firework emblazoned with a presidential seal showing a figure with hair similar to President Donald Trump.

Under California health and safety codes, possession of a gross weight of fireworks under 25 pounds, including packaging, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.

The quantities seized in many of these arrests rise to the level of felonies, however, which can carry sentences of up to three years in state prison and up to $50,000 fines.

Here is a breakdown of the seizures and arrests

Warrants:

• 2400 block of Fordham Street: 106.86 pounds of fireworks and one arrest.

• 400 block of Wisteria Drive: 145.35 pounds of fireworks, 5 pounds of marijuana and one arrest.

• 2200 block of Euclid Avenue: 77.36 pounds of fireworks, one explosive device, one firearm, thousands of dollars in cash and three arrests.

• 400 block of Garden Street: 74.1 pounds of fireworks and one arrest.

• 2300 block Palo Verde Avenue: Multiple spent fireworks found in a trash receptacle and no arrests.

• 2200 block University Avenue: One discharged firework and one arrest for threatening officers.

Probation searches:

• 2300 block of Dumbarton Avenue: 190 pounds of fireworks, case referred to the District Attorney's Office.

• 600 block of Runnymede Street: One fireworks device and one arrest.

Vehicle stops:

• 1700 block of Bay Road: fireworks: 110.93 pounds -- 1 arrest

The July 4 fireworks suppression resulted in the confiscation of 600 pounds of fireworks, a firearm, 2 pounds of marijuana and no arrests.

East Palo Alto police Chief Al Pardini indicated during a June 29 tri-city community forum of police and fire chiefs and elected leaders from East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto that he would release data on the investigations after July 4. The chiefs and city officials said that the Fourth of July actions would be only part of an ongoing effort in the coming months to try to change the culture around massive fireworks displays by residents and celebratory gunfire, which have caused injuries and property damage.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said this week that fireworks caused a detached garage fire in eastern Menlo Park. In a separate incident, a 20-year-old man was injured by glass after fireworks were set off in a bottle.

Comments

Maggie
Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:55 pm
Maggie, Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:55 pm
15 people like this

2 officers? No wonder it sounded like we were living in a war zone for weeks!


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:59 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:59 pm
15 people like this

This must be a very small part of the total complement of what was there. I still hear a few most evenings lately. I am pleased they caught some and confiscated some, but it was obviously not a deterrent to those who still let them off night after night after night after night


EPA Resident
East Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:28 pm
EPA Resident, East Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:28 pm
15 people like this

Word on the street is the Menlo Park fire department was using drones to flag houses where people were setting off fireworks.


Fairmeadow
Midtown
on Jul 10, 2020 at 9:04 pm
Fairmeadow, Midtown
on Jul 10, 2020 at 9:04 pm
29 people like this

Big Thank You to Law Enforcement!!!


member
Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm
member, Crescent Park
on Jul 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm
9 people like this

A lot of the stuff pictured looks pretty tame compared to what people were shooting off on July 4th.


MidtownMom
Midtown
on Jul 11, 2020 at 9:13 pm
MidtownMom, Midtown
on Jul 11, 2020 at 9:13 pm
6 people like this

FINALLY some decent police work here. It was an excruciating, helpless 6 weeks


YP
Crescent Park
on Jul 12, 2020 at 6:39 am
YP, Crescent Park
on Jul 12, 2020 at 6:39 am
6 people like this

About time, finally a sign our law enforcement was taking some action. The amount of fireworks this year was out of control this year , every night all night for weeks. More tougher action needs to happen next year.
I hope they can do some investigative work and find out who is selling these illegal fireworks and go after the source. Those holding large amounts of explosives should be given very stiff penalties as it's pretty clear if they have that much in their garage they are selling some of it to others.


Bob
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 12, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Bob, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 12, 2020 at 5:30 pm
6 people like this

Seems like the sophistication and quantity of these products has increased exponentially over the last few years, we're so far beyond the old "safe and sane" fireworks. Hoping some enterprising journalists look into how all of this stuff is being imported, it doesn't seem like Customs is up to the task of managing all of these explosives entering the ports.... wasn't this supposed to be a priority, for other reasons?


JustSayin
Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2020 at 10:16 am
JustSayin, Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2020 at 10:16 am
4 people like this

Re: YP

The illegal fireworks comes from Mexico over the border in large quantities. It's nearly impossible to stop it and they always have eager customers. ¯\(°_o)/¯


WRH
Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:20 am
WRH, Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:20 am
2 people like this

Were all of those fireworks heaped on a table in a room in the police station(s)??? Isn't that a rather risky thing to do given the fire hazard?? I hope that they don't store them in their evidence room until the trials. Store then in an unused outbuilding instead where than can't ignite or damage any any people or buildings if they suddenly ignite. Or, give them to the local bomb squad to put in a bunker.


MyOpinion
another community
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:38 am
MyOpinion, another community
on Jul 13, 2020 at 11:38 am
6 people like this

My main concern is fire danger and injuries to innocent people, the noise is really annoying, but the danger of fire and unintentioned explosions is really frightening. There need to be harsh penalties.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2020 at 3:49 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 13, 2020 at 3:49 pm
Like this comment

Someone mentioned a drone. One went over my house during the afternoon. I thought it was a bird at first with it's wings pulled in - then the sun reflected off the metal pieces. And it disappeared in a flash. I had to stop and think about that and now am looking up and checking the sky for any more flyovers that are obvious to me. Does anyone know from where they are managing these fly overs? The airport? I am concerned that they interfere with major airport activity - interfere with landing planes.
As to fireworks - they are all over. I suspect in the industrial section off Charleston near San Antonio. At one point a lot were local.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:48 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 15, 2020 at 11:48 am
4 people like this

Great job - thank you - cheers to the police.


EPA Resident
Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jul 28, 2020 at 2:13 pm
EPA Resident, Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jul 28, 2020 at 2:13 pm
6 people like this

A BIG THANK YOU to law enforcement. I have a young child and the fireworks at night was making it very difficult for her to sleep. I've noticed a remarkable difference in the past week or so.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.