Synagogue blast suspect thought headed east: FBI

LOS ANGELES Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:21pm EDT

Transient Ron Hirsch, who also goes by the name Israel Fisher, is shown in this photograph from the Santa Monica Police department released April 8, 2011. REUTERS/Santa Monica Police Department

Transient Ron Hirsch, who also goes by the name Israel Fisher, is shown in this photograph from the Santa Monica Police department released April 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Santa Monica Police Department

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Authorities hunting for a transient suspected in a bomb blast outside a Los Angeles-area synagogue said on Monday they now believe he left town later that day on a Greyhound bus.

Ron Hirsch, 60, is 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 apartment building.

Investigators have 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.

Eimiller said Hirsch -- who has been known to use the aliases J. Fisher and Israel Fisher -- is believed to have boarded the bus later on Thursday.

Additional investigation, including surveillance video, indicates he got off the bus in Denver, she said. From there Hirsch could have boarded another bus to New York, where he has family, remained in the Denver area or traveled elsewhere, Eimiller said.

There are at least 10 destinations on the Greyhound bus route that Hirsch was believed to be on.

"He could actually be anywhere," Eimiller said. "Our theory is that he's headed East."

A forensic examination has determined the device that exploded next to Chabad House was deliberately constructed, according to a joint news release 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 but said Hirsch should be considered extremely dangerous and advised anyone coming in contact with 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 Jerry Norton)

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