Suspect identified in blast at Santa Monica synagogue
Santa Monica police released a photograph of Ron Hirsch, 60, a short, heavyset man also known as Israel Fisher, saying they believe he was behind Thursday morning’s blast outside Chabad House on 17th Street between Broadway and Santa Monica Boulevard. Police described Hirsch as a transient.
"Hirsch should be considered extremely dangerous," states a police bulletin sent to other law enforcement agencies.
The bulletin said Hirsch was known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers in search of charity, among them Congregation Bais Yehuda on North La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles.
The blast sent a 300-pound metal pipe encased in concrete hurtling through the air and crashing through the roof of a home next door to Chabad House. Originally authorities had said they believed the explosion was a freak industrial accident.
But on Friday, bomb technicians and detectives scouring the scene discovered evidence that the blast was caused by an explosive device, police said. Items found nearby were linked to Hirsch, who was being sought on state charges of possession of a destructive device and other charges.
The motive for the attack was unknown, police said. Joining local authorities in investigating the case were the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On Friday afternoon, the Anti-Defamation League issued a security alert to synagogues and other Jewish organizations in the Los Angeles area.
"ADL has no information regarding a specific threat against any Jewish institution," the league announced in the alert. "However, community members should be extra vigilant."
Amanda Susskind, the league’s Los Angeles regional director, said in an interview that the alert was "not intended to create panic or a drama," but rather to keep people on the outlook for a man who seems to be disturbed.
She also said there was no indication that the suspect was part of a terrorist plot.
-- Michael Finnegan
Photo: Ron Hirsch
Credit: Santa Monica Police Department