Police seek suspect in blast near Santa Monica synagogue

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 09, 2011 11:49 AM
Police seek suspect in blast near Santa Monica synagogue

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A blast outside a Los Angeles-area synagogue this week was caused by an explosive device and police on Saturday were looking for a suspect, authorities said.

The explosion on Thursday near the Chabad House in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica injured no one and was blamed by police that day on a mechanical failure.

The blast sent a pipe hurtling through the air and crashing onto an apartment building next to the synagogue.

Santa Monica police said in a statement late on Friday that they were looking for a transient suspect named Ron Hirsch in connection with the blast.

In the course of examining the scene, investigators determined the blast was actually caused by an explosive device, police said.

Police gave no details on how the device was constructed, but they said items found in and around the mechanism were linked to Hirsch, who also goes by the name Israel Fisher.

Hirsch is known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking charity, police said.

Police also released a photo of Hirsch, showing him to be heavy-set and bearded with green eyes.

Hirsch is considered "extremely dangerous," police said.

The FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Los Angeles Police Department are also involved in the investigation.

In the first hours after the blast, police said it appeared to have been caused by a pipe bomb. But they reversed themselves that day and said it was due to a mechanical failure, before investigators came to their latest conclusion and started a manhunt for Hirsch.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)