LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A homemade bomb caused an explosion which slightly damaged a Californian synagogue, police said on Friday, naming an “extremely dangerous” homeless man wanted over the blast.
Some 100 peope were evacuated after the explosion Thursday near the Chabad House Jewish temple in Santa Monica, west of Los Angeles, which officials had said was due to some kind of industrial accident.
But Santa Monica police spokesman Jay Trisler said late Friday that further investigation had found material linked to a known transient in the debris of a metal post which landed on a nearby roof after the blast.
The suspect was named as 60-year-old Ron Hirsch — who also goes by the name of Israel Fisher — wanted on charges of possessing a destructive device and other unrelated charges.
“Bomb technicians and detectives conducted further forensic analysis ..and .. uncovered materials indicating that the device appeared to have been deliberately constructed,” he said.
“Investigation has determined that items found in and around the mechanism are linked to an individual by the name of Ron Hirsch,” who “is known to frequent synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking charity from patrons.”
“Based on his suspected involvement in this incident, Hirsch is considered extremely dangerous,” he added, issuing a mugshot of Hirsch showing the 60-year-old with a full beard.
Nobody was injured in the early morning blast, which triggered initial reports of a pipe bomb before police said it due to “some type of mechanical failure,” apparently underground.
A statement on the Chabad House website said a service was going on at the time of the scare, adding that those praying inside “did not hear or feel anything” and were alerted to the incident by police.
An update later Thursday said: “Some individual was attempting to separate concrete and pipe.
“He left the debris next to Chabad House and some chemical reaction took place which made the pipe shoot up and hit the roof of the next door property,” it added, saying there was “some small damage to our outside wall.”
The synagogue had no immediate further reaction after police identified Hirsch as the suspect sought in connection with the explosion.