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FBI Nabs Synagogue Blast Suspect In Cleveland

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SANTA MONICA (AP) — Authorities have reportedly apprehended the homeless man suspected of setting off a homemade explosive device next to a Santa Monica Jewish center in Cleveland.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks Reports

A man thought to be Ron Hirsch, 60, was taken into custody in suburban Cleveland Heights Monday evening after a concerned citizen who came into contact with him called police, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller in Los Angeles said.

She said the FBI was working with local authorities to confirm the man’s identity and had no immediate details of the arrest.

“It’s believed to be him but, just as in any arrest scenario, a formal identification must be made,” Eimiller said.

Investigators believed Hirsch boarded a New York-bound Greyhound bus the day of last Thursday’s blast near Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica.

hirsch at bus station FBI Nabs Synagogue Blast Suspect In Cleveland

Ron Hirsch boarded a Greyhound bus Thursday, the same day as the explosion outside the Santa Monica synagogue, the FBI reported. Authorities said Hirsch purchased a Greyhound bus ticket to New York, where he is believed to have family, but was later found in the Cleveland area. (credit: CBS)

Hirsch is believed to have family in New York. However, video surveillance captured him getting off the bus in Denver, going to the ticket counter and then boarding another eastbound bus, FBI spokesman Dave Joly in Denver said.

Authorities considered him dangerous based on his suspected involvement in the explosion.

Hirsch, a transient known to spend time at synagogues and other Jewish community centers seeking charity, is wanted on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges.

The explosion shattered windows and punched a hole in the synagogue, while sending chunks of concrete and a heavy pipe crashing into the roof of a nearby house.

Authorities said a child was sleeping almost underneath where the device landed.

Authorities initially believed it was an industrial accident, but they now say the device was deliberately constructed and items found at the scene were linked to Hirsch.

Investigators do not have a motive for the blast. Jewish groups have said they did not believe anti-Semitism was necessarily behind it.

Police stepped up patrols at Chabad House and other houses of worship over the weekend after naming Hirsch as a suspect.

“If he did it, he’s not here no more. He’s not coming back,” Rabbi Eli Levitansky said. “If he didn’t do it, the security here is … more than it was just a couple days ago.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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