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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Central District of California

For Immediate Release

May 3, 2011

André Birotte Jr., United States Attorney

Contact: Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer
(213) 894-6947

Transient Indicted on Federal Explosives Charges Related to Blast Outside Santa Monica Synagogue

LOS ANGELES — A federal grand jury today named a homeless man in a four–count indictment that accuses him of detonating an explosive device outside the Chabad House in Santa Monica last month.

Ron Hirsch, 60, now faces four federal charges that could send him to prison for as long as 70 years. Hirsch, who remains in federal custody in Los Angeles, is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on May 23 in United States District Court.

Hirsch, who also used the names Ronald Jay Fisher and Israel Fisher, allegedly detonated the destructive device outside the Chabad House on April 7. After fleeing Los Angeles via bus and being the subject of a nationwide manhunt, Hirsch was taken into custody in Cleveland on April 11. After the U.S. Marshals Service returned him to Southern California on April 22, a United States Magistrate ordered him held without bond.

The grand jury indictment accuses Hirsch of four charges: use of an explosive to damage property, use of an explosive to commit a federal felony, use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

If he is convicted of the four felony charges in the indictment, Hirsch would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 years in federal prison. The statutory maximum penalty of the charges is 70 years in prison.

The ongoing investigation that led to today’s indictment is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Santa Monica Police Department.

ATF has utilized the knowledge and experience garnered in explosives incidents over the last 30 years to provide the evidence used by a grand jury to issue today's indictment, said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Field Office in Los Angeles. Our main goals are to ensure public safety and to address the concerns of the local community, both of which have been met in the case against Mr. Hirsch.

When the destructive device linked to Hirsch exploded on April 7, an approximately 250–pound piece of concrete–encased steel pipe became airborne, struck the side of the Chabad House and landed on the roof of a nearby home, causing a 2½ –foot–wide hole in the roof over a bedroom where a 12–year–old girl was sleeping, according to an affidavit previously filed in federal court.

Several agencies have assisted the ATF, the FBI and the Santa Monica Police Department during the investigation, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Monica Fire Department and the Cleveland Heights (Ohio) Police Department.

In addition to charges contained in the today’s grand jury indictment, Hirsch faces felony charges brought by the Los Angeles County District Attorney last month (see:

CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Edward Alon

National Security Section

(213) 894–3825

Release No. 11–062