Suspect in U.S. synagogue bombing charged in L.A.
The suspect in last week's explosion outside a Santa Monica synagogue in Southern California was charged on Tuesday in the Los Angeles federal court with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for damaging or destroying a building, Xinhua reported.
Ron Hirsch, 60, a transient who frequented the area before Thursday morning's explosion, is currently being held by the FBI in Ohio, after being spotted by a member of public at a Jewish center in Cleveland Heights, a Cleveland suburb.
The blast, which occurred at 6:45 a.m. in the parking lot of the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica on 17th Street, was first thought to be an industrial accident. Later, police determined the blast was the result of a pipe bomb. The explosive device was made by filling a pipe with an explosive and setting it in concrete inside a trash can, authorities said.
Hirsch, who has been known to use the aliases J. Fisher and Israel Fisher, was believed to have boarded a Greyhound bus a few hours after the incident and headed to New York where the investigators believe he has family. The bus was originally scheduled to arrive on Sunday, April 10.
He was spotted by investigators as having got off the bus in Denver, Colorado, and may have gone anywhere from there. There are at least 10 destinations between Los Angeles and New York.
Authorities initially thought the blast was a freak accident. However, investigators, including federal agents, later found evidence linking Hirsch to the crime, FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said.
"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," Eimiller said.
Hirsch was considered "extremely dangerous," and "no known motive for a deliberate attack is known at this time," according to the official. The man was also wanted on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges.
An investigation was launched involving Santa Monica police, the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Santa Monica Fire Department.
Nobody was injured in the blast. A 300-pound (136-kg) hunk of concrete, with a metal bar attached, went shooting into the sky, bounced off the wall of the Jewish center, tore a hole into the roof of a neighboring residence and narrowly missed an 11-year-old girl inside.
The explosion prompted the evacuation of about 100 people in the area.