Police: Santa Monica Chabad explosion was a bomb

Initial reports called blast "freak" accident; police name 60-year-old suspect; ADL issues alert to LA-area Jewish organizations.

Chabad House Santa Monica 311  (photo credit: Google Maps)
Chabad House Santa Monica 311
(photo credit: Google Maps)
An explosion that hit the Santa Monica, California Chabad House Thursday morning was caused by an explosive device, Santa Monica Police said late Friday night, reversing their previous statement that the explosion was caused by a freak industrial accident.
The Santa Monica Police Department released a photograph and description of a suspect, named as 60-year-old Ron Hirsch, who it described as a transient. A police bulletin said "Hirsch should be considered extremely dangerous."
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Police added that Hirsch previously frequented synagogues and Jewish community centers in the Los Angeles area seeking charity.
The blast, which took place at a synagogue in Santa Monica sent debris crashing through the roof of the Chabad House, which sits next door.
Following the announcement, the Anti-Defamation League issued a security alert to other synagogues and Jewish institutions in southern California, according to the Los Angeles Times. It said that it had "no information regarding a specific threat," but called on community members to be "extra vigilant."
There were no injuries in the early Thursday morning blast that saw a four-block area around the synagogue and Chabad center evacuated. A statement from the Santa Monica Police Department several hours after had denied the presence of an "incendiary device," saying that the explosion was caused by "a mechanical failure."