Santa Monica synagogue bombing suspect fled for East Coast in bus, FBI says
Federal authorities said Monday the homeless man suspected of setting off a homemade explosive device next to a Santa Monica synagogue is believed to have left the area last week on a bus headed for the East Coast.
Although police stepped up patrols around Jewish houses of worship and community centers, officials for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said they have information that Ron Hirsch, 60, left the Los Angeles area Thursday on a Greyhound bus to New York and was scheduled to arrive Sunday.
Hirsch has family in New York, but the FBI believes that Hirsch got off the bus before arriving in the city, possibly in Denver.
"There are at least 10 destinations in between Los Angeles and New York," the FBI said in a statement with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Santa Monica Police Department. "Additional investigation has determined that Hirsch may have disembarked the bus in Denver and may have further deviated from his original route."
Authorities said Hirsch should be considered "extremely dangerous."
Hirsch is believed to be responsible for an explosion last week that sent a 300-pound metal pipe encased in concrete crashing through the roof of Janti Rashti's home, who lives next door to Chabad House on 17th Street, near Broadway.
Law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times that the explosive contained gunpowder and other materials linked to Hirsch. But authorities said they had not yet determined a motive.
The FBI, the ATF, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Monica police and fire departments continue to investigate the explosion.
Hirsch, who is known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking charity from patrons, is currently being sought on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges, FBI officials said.
The FBI asked that anyone with information about the case call (888) CANT-HIDE, or (888) 226-8443, or 911. They noted that reward money is available in exchange for information leading to the conviction of Hirsch.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Suspect Ron Hirsch. Credit: Santa Monica Police Department