Synagogue pipe bomber arrested

After days of searching, the FBI have arrested Ron Hirsch, 60, in connection with the explosion near the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica, blocks away from Santa Monica College's main campus. Initial reports of the explosion, which happened Thursday morning, Apr. 7, referred to the incident as a pipe bomb, but were then described as a construction accident, mechanical in nature.  After lengthy post-blast assessments, investigators found evidence that the device that caused the explosion near the Chabad House was made deliberately.

Hirsch was linked to the explosive materials by a receipt found at the scene. Hirsch has been known to visit local synagogues in search of charity from congregants.

Hirsch was apprehended in Cleveland Heights, Ohio Monday night after being spotted at a local synagogue. He was recognized from a photo released by the FBI.

The criminal complaint filed against Hirsch stated that the receipt found at the scene of the explosion at the Chabad House was for three 11-pound bags of a demolition agent purchased from a Constar in Clovis, California, on Apr. 1. They were purchased with cash and delivered to an address in Santa Monica. Other materials found at the scene included plumbing tape rolls, duct tape rolls, empty dry ice bags, five pieces of rebar, bags of cement, and a steel pipe wrench.

The projectile, which damaged a roof belonging to Janit Rashti, a homeowner, initiated in a plastic trash can that contained hardened cement approximately one foot in depth; it was found on a walkway on the north side of the Chabad House.

According to Rabbi Isaac Levitansky, Hirsch has been visiting the Chabad House for several years. Despite ongoing investigations, the Chabad House will continue to conduct community Seders next week to mark the beginning of Passover, a tradition they have held for 30 years.

Of the community support, Levitansky said, "We learned a lesson of the goodness that has come out of the support we've received."

After appearing in a Cleveland court last Wednesday, Hirsch is to return to California to fight the charges filed against him.