Nike missile base-turned SWAT training center in Chatsworth hills draws taggers, vandals

Mariecar Mendoza (Los Angeles Daily News) | February 03, 2013

A former Nike missile base in the hills of Chatsworth has become an unsanctioned playground for hikers, taggers and vandals, raising safety concerns among neighbors and triggering a Los Angeles Police Department internal investigation.

The former U.S. Army LA-88 Nike Missile Base on Oat Mountain is surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, but the gates have been found unlocked or broken into after an onsite manager left the property nearly five years ago.

Its underground bunkers, burned-out structures and rusty construction equipment now seem reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie set.

“Everybody knows that place is a lawless area,” said rancher Wayne Fishback, a neighbor who has raised concerns about site security. “That’s why there’s so much vandalism and random people there throughout the day and night. It’s really troubling for us who own property nearby.”

The 5-acre site’s main official use now is LAPD Bomb Squad and SWAT team training.

But the department has launched an internal investigation after a box containing roughly 400 sniper bullets was found in an unlocked cargo container at the site.

Fishback found the Federal Premium .308 rifle ammunition in December, entering the site after he saw the gates open and hikers wandering around. He tried to turn the bullets over to LAPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and even the Los Angeles County Fire Department, but Fishback said no one wanted to take them.

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Photo credit: Michael Owen Baker / LA Daily News

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