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Jewish Journal

Trial for Chabad Explosion Suspect Rescheduled

by Ryan Torok

June 28, 2011 | 11:33 am

Chabad explosion suspect Ron Hirsch

The United States District Court has rescheduled the trial date for 60-year-old Ron Hirsch aka Israel Fischer, who was arrested in April. He has been linked to a deliberate explosion outside a Chabad in Santa Monica.

The trial, originally set for June 28, has been pushed to August 30.

The United States District Court for the Central District of California granted a continuance of the trial, to “allow time for a mental competency examination of the defendant, already jointly requested by the parties ... allow time for defendant to review and evaluate discovery in this case, and ... allow time for defendant to consider and, if necessary, obtain and prepare expert witnesses for trial in this case,” according to a court document that was filed on June 6.

Hirsch has been charged with detonating a 250-pound pipe bomb that exploded outside the Chabad at 1428 17th Street in Santa Monica. The explosion resulted in minor damage to the synagogue and sent the pipe and concrete flying into the roof of an adjacent house. There were no deaths or injuries from the explosion, which occurred on April 7.

Hirsch was linked to the explosion by a mailing label on a box of demolition agent, found near the scene of the explosion, and federal investigators also found empty dry-ice bags, plumbing tape, pieces of rebar, bags of cement and a pipe wrench, according to an FBI affidavit dated April 12.

On May 23, Hirsch pleaded not guilty to the four felony charges, which include use of an explosive device to damage property, use of an explosive to commit a federal felony, use of a destructive device during a crime of violence and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

If convicted of the four charges, Hirsch could face up to 70 years in federal prison.

Hirsch was arrested in Cleveland on April 12. In the days following the blast, he fled Los Angeles by bus and sought shelter in a synagogue in Cleveland, where he was recognized because of a photo of him that had circulated in news reports. After being taken into custody in Cleveland, he was extradited back to Los Angeles. He has held in federal custody without bond since.

Hirsch is Jewish, according to rabbis at the Chabad in Santa Monica, and had been to the synagogue in the past—before the blast on April 7 – seeking handouts.

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