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16 SWAT team members hospitalized after explosion during training

One team member required surgery for a leg injury, while many others had ringing in their ears after the blast.
A SWAT team is shown.
Posted at 7:48 PM, Mar 15, 2024

An explosion during a SWAT team's annual training exercise Wednesday sent 16 of them to the hospital, with one needing surgery for a leg injury, authorities said.

The team was in the middle of a routine joint training with the Sheriff's Hazardous Devices Section when the blast occurred shortly before 1 p.m., according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Specifically, Sgt. Frank Gonzalez told the Associated Press that it happened while SWAT was training with the sheriff's bomb squad, but he said it wasn't immediately clear what caused the explosion.

The sheriff's department said 15 team members were taken from the remote Irvine, California, facility to local hospitals by ambulance, and one transported himself. 

Authorities said the member's leg injury that required surgery was non-life-threatening. Two other SWAT members suffered superficial injuries, one to his leg and another to a member's back, OCSD said. These did not require surgery, Gonzalez told the AP.

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A 19-year-old was killed after reportedly being hit by a projectile from the explosion about a quarter-mile down the road.

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The other 13 members went to the hospital reporting dizziness and ringing in their ears, officials reported. 

The FBI Special Agent Jerry Crowe Regional Tactical Training Facility, where the explosion occurred, is typically used by bureau and local law enforcement agencies who are hosting firearms training and qualifications tests, bureau spokesperson Laura Eimiller told the AP. She also said that no FBI personnel were injured in the incident.

The FBI is now leading an investigation into the explosion alongside the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the latter said.