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Man wanted for Calif. explosion arrested in Cleveland Heights

11:40 AM, Apr 12, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS-- The Los Angeles FBI believe the man they'd been searching for since last Thursday, Ron Hirsch, 60, has been arrested in Cleveland Heights' Taylor Road shul.

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

Hirsch is scheduled to appear before U.S. federal Magistrate Judge Greg White at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

On Monday night, Rabbi Sruly Wolf said another rabbi, who didn't want to be identified because he was apprehensive, called him and said he thought he recognized a visitor to the Agudath Israel graduate study program near a synagogue.

"A fellow in our community spotted him in the schul on Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights," said Rabbi Sruly Wolf. "The rabbi who spotted him called the Cleveland Heights police, who immediately responded and called the FBI."

The man had asked for a place to stay Sunday night and was put up in a hotel because he didn't provide appropriate identification to allow him to stay at a guest apartment, Wolf said Tuesday.

Wolf advised the rabbi to call police, and he did.

Neighbors near the site of the Santa Monica explosion described Hirsch as a quiet man who sometimes slept by the side of the synagogue.

In Ohio, he seemed to go to a familiar locale for help.

"He felt comfortable enough to come into a community that offered him shelter and offered him money because the Orthodox community is very hospitable and takes care of its own," Wolf said.

Gerry Elliot, of Cleveland Heights, said he saw Hirsch taken into custody at Kollel Torah L.I.F.E. (Learning is for Everyone), a study center for adults.

Elliot said Hirsch was wearing a blue jacket and jeans, unlike most of the people who come to study who dress in suits.

"His clothes were rather unconventional. He looked like he came from the beach," Elliot said. "He just looked like an innocent old soul."

The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Los Angeles Police Department, L.A. County Sheriff's Department' and the Santa Monica police and fire departments have been actively working this case.

Hirsch, believed to be a homeless man, was wanted for possibly setting off an explosion last Thursday next to the Chabad House on 17th Street in Santa Monica.

FBI and Police believed the suspect may have been heading toward New York, so they put out a "Be On the LookOut" (BOLO) to all law enforcement agencies along the way.

The man known as J. Fisher, a known alias used by suspect Ron Hirsch, purchased a Greyhound bus ticket to New York that was originally scheduled to arrive Sunday, April 10.

There are at least 10 destinations in between Los Angeles and New York.

Additional investigation and video surveillance indicates that Hirsch got off the bus in Denver and may have switched up his original route.  

Hirsch is believed to have family in New York.

An investigation has been underway since the initial report of an explosion was received by the Santa Monica Police Department. A lengthy forensic post-blast investigation of the incident site was conducted following the initial field assessment and resulted in evidence indicating that the device appeared to have been deliberately constructed.

The Investigation determined that Items found in and around the crime scene are linked to Ron Hirsch.

His motive still unknown.  The FBI says this is a continuing investigation.  They will release more details as they become available.

WKYC-TV

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