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Police Find Explosives in LA Landmark

October 3, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Police investigating a double slaying Thursday found explosives at the 52- story, twin-tower Arco Plaza, forcing the evacuation of three underground floors of the downtown landmark.

The evacuation began shortly before 1 p.m. when detectives from the major crimes section of the Robbery-Homicide Division discovered a cylinder marked ″high explosives,″ said Lt. Dan Cooke.

A bomb squad removed the explosives about 2:15 p.m. and an estimated 1,200 workers were allowed to return to the building.

The detectives were executing a search warrant when they found the undetermined amount of explosives, blasting caps and two pistols in a barber shop below the North Tower, said Detective Richard Crotsley.

Cooke declined to identify the suspect in the placement of the explosives.

Police said the explosives were not related to the investigation into the slayings of Gerald Woodman, 67, and his wife Vera, 63, were shot and killed in the underground garage of their Brentwood condominium on Sept. 25, 1985.

Police were searching the barbershop in the building for shoes and weapons connected to the Woodman slayings.

Five defendants, including the Woodmans’ sons, were charged with murder and conspiracy in the slayings. Prosecutors contend Stewart and Neil Woodman hired the others to kill their parents so they could collect on their mother’s $500,000 insurance policy.

The killings were originally dubbed the ″Ninja slayings″ because witnesses erroneously believed the killers were dressed in the black garb of Japanese secret society of assassins.

A pretrial hearing for the five was scheduled for Oct. 10. A sixth defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and agreed to testify against the others.

Cooke said he believed most of the North Tower was empty at one point because workers who were out for lunch didn’t return to their offices. He estimated 1,200 people were affected.

Traffic throughout the area was snarled during the evacuation as police roped off surrounding streets. Hundreds of office workers stood watching on sidewalks as a police bomb squad worked to remove the explosives.

Last month, the Arco Plaza was sold by owners Atlantic Richfield Corp. and Bank of America to Shuwa Investments Corp., a Japanese investment firm, for $620 million cash, believed to be the largest cash payment ever for commercial property in the United States.

The plaza opened in 1972 as the keystone of downtown redevelopment.

It is world headquarters for ARCO, the city’s largest corporation, and is the Southern California headquarters for San Francisco-based Bank of America.