Synagogue blast suspect arrested in Ohio - FBI

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2011 11:41 PM

By Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Authorities on Monday arrested a man believed to be responsible for a bomb blast outside a Los Angeles-area synagogue, after a manhunt that began in California and ended in Ohio, the FBI said.

Ron Hirsch, 60, was wanted for questioning in an explosion on Thursday that ripped a hole in the Chabad House synagogue and sent a pipe crashing through the roof of a nearby home.

The FBI said in a statement that an individual believed to be Hirsch, who is a transient, was taken into custody in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on Monday evening.

"The individual in custody was arrested following a call to law enforcement by a concerned citizen who had come in contact with the man believed to be Hirsch," the FBI said.

The announcement of the arrest came hours after the FBI said it believed Hirsch left Los Angeles on a Greyhound bus the day of the explosion, as the agency sought the public's help in locating him.

Investigators learned a man identified as J. Fisher bought a bus ticket to New York that was originally scheduled to arrive there on Sunday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Hirsch has been known to use the aliases J. Fisher and Israel Fisher, authorities said.

Additional investigation, including surveillance video, indicated he got off the bus in Denver, she said. But the FBI had suspected Hirsch boarded another bus and was heading east across the country.

A forensic examination has determined the device that exploded next to Chabad House in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica was deliberately constructed, according to a joint statement by the agencies investigating the bombing, including the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Santa Monica Police Department.

Investigators have linked items found at the scene to Hirsch, who has been described as frequenting synagogues and Jewish community centers in the Los Angeles area seeking charity from patrons.

Authorities say they have no known motive for the attack. Hirsch was considered extremely dangerous and authorities had advised anyone who saw him to contact law enforcement.

In the first hours after the blast, police said it appeared to have been caused by a pipe bomb.

They reversed themselves that day and said the explosion was due to a mechanical failure, before investigators came to their final conclusion that it was deliberate and began a manhunt for Hirsch.

(Editing by Peter Bohan)


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