After inspection by forensic experts, the blast outside a Chabad Synagogue in Santa Monica last Thursday has been confirmed as a deliberate attack with an improvised explosive. The source of the explosion was first believed to be a pipe bomb, and then simply a freak industrial accident. After gathering evidence, Police now say it consisted of a makeshift missile fired from a trashcan which caused damage to the wall of the Chabad house before tearing a hole in the roof of a neighboring home where a child was sleeping.
Santa Monica police are searching for Ron Hirsch, also known as Israel Fisher. Hirsch is a local transient known for frequenting Jewish community centers and synagogues in search of charity. A neighbor said he would sleep under the canopy at the synagogue’s entrance. Most mornings would find him reading the Wall Street Journal and talking on his cell phones (Santa Monica, remember). Released photos show him as heavy-set and bearded with green eyes.
Congregant Sara Levitansky said that she’d “seen [Hirsch] around, but lately… haven’t seen him much.” Santa Monica Police are being joined in the investigation by the LAPD, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They described Hirsch as “extremely dangerous.”
Hirsch’s motives are currently unknown. The Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying they have no reason to expect anti-Semitism, but that local synagogues should remain vigilant.
“We have no evidence of this being a hate crime at this point,” said Amanda Susskind, the regional director of the ADL in Los Angeles. “We have no file on this man as a member of any hate group. Some folks in the community knew him, and it seems like he was just a very troubled soul.”
Santa Monica Synagogue Explosion: Ron Hirsch Sought By Police [ABC]
[UPDATE] Chabad Rabbi Discusses Explossion Suspect + Video Footage From Explosion Site [Jewish Journal]
Police Hunt Suspect After Blast Outside Chabad Synagogue Determined Intentional [VosizNeias]
Police Search For Suspect In Santa Monica Synagogue Explosion [LAT]
Transient is Sought in Bombing at California Synagogue [NYT]