A blast first thought to be an industrial accident outside a synagogue and community center was caused by a homemade explosive device and police have identified a suspect, authorities said Friday.
Bomb technicians and detectives conducted thorough examinations of the hunk of concrete and large pipe that flew some 25 feet (7 meters) into the air after the Thursday explosion at Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica on Thursday.
"The device appeared to have been deliberately constructed," Santa Monica police Sgt. Jay Trisler said in a statement.
Police have linked the device to Ron Hirsch, a 60-year-old transient known to spend time at synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking charity, Trisler said.
"Based on his suspected involvement in this incident, Hirsch is considered extremely dangerous," Trisler said.
Hirsch was wanted on state charges of possession of a destructive device and unrelated local charges, Trisler said.
The development was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The explosion shattered windows, punched a hole in the synagogue, and sent the pipe ricocheting into a neighboring house where a young boy was sleeping. There were no injuries.
About 20 people had been attending a Passover service in the synagogue, and they and about 80 others from surrounding houses were evacuated for more than five hours.
'No evidence to threat to Jews'
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have joined local agencies in the investigation.
Authorities said they knew of no motive behind the explosion, and Jewish groups said they did not believe anti-Semitism was necessarily behind it.
"We have no evidence of any kind of threat to any Jewish institution or evidence that this was a hate crime," said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Los Angeles region of the Anti-Defamation League.
Susskind said the league worked with law enforcement to send an alert to Jewish institutions about Hirsch and the attack, but it was only intended to make sure they were vigilant about Friday night services and to call law enforcement if the man was spotted.
The phone rang unanswered at the synagogue.
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook