Ron Hirsch, Synagogue Explosion Suspect, on a Greyhound to New York

Update: Santa Monica police say they nabbed the suspect last night in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he was lurking near another synagogue. More after the jump.

The homeless man suspected of planting an explosive in the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica synagogue on Thursday, April 7 is now believed to have skipped town the same day.

Santa Monica police say 60-year-old Ron Hirsch used the alias J. Hirsch to purchase a Greyhound bus ticket from L.A. to New York, where he may have family.

The bus was set to arrive yesterday, but there were 10 cross-country stops before the bus final East Coast destination. He was last spotted in surveillance footage at the Denver station. Here's what to look for:

  • Ron Hirsch, aka Israel Fisher or J. Fisher
  • Male
  • Caucasian
  • Brown hair, green eyes
  • 5'07", 207 lbs.
  • Born December 9, 1950

From the latest police presser:

A lengthy forensic post-blast investigation of the incident site was conducted following the initial field assessment and resulted in evidence indicating that the device appeared to have been deliberately constructed. Investigation determined that Items found in and around the crime scene are linked to Ron Hirsch, identified as a transient.
Hirsch is known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking charity from patrons. Hirsch is currently being sought on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges.

The explosion near 17th Street and Broadway in Santa Monica sent a 300-pound metal pipe (encased in concrete) flying from the synagogue through the roof of next-door neighbor Janti Rashti. Law-enforcement officials immediately evacuated the synagogue and every other building within a four-block radius.

The FBI hasn't figured out Hirsch's motive yet, but is calling him "extremely dangerous." Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call (888) CANT HIDE.

Update: Santa Monica police Sergeant Jay Trisler says authorities in Ohio captured the suspect after "a call to law enforcement by a concerned citizen who had come into contact with man believed to be Hirsch."

The Los Angeles Times claims to have heard from "sources" that Hirsch "was arrested near a Chabad House in the Ohio city."

KNX news radio reported this morning that he may have even asked a rabbi there for a place to stay. The rabbi at Santa Monica's Chabad House, meanwhile, expresses great relief that Hirsch is behind bars and Passover can be celebrated in peace.

Originally posted April 11 at 11:45 a.m.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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