Jewish Journal

Explosion near Chabad of Santa Monica may have been a bomb [UPDATE]

by JewishJournal.com

Posted on Apr. 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Chabad House of Santa Monica (Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.ktla.com/" title="KTLA.com" target="_blank">KTLA.com</a>)

Chabad House of Santa Monica (Photo courtesy KTLA.com)

[UPDATE: FRIDAY, APRIL 8 -- 4:30 p.m.] Explosion Near Chabad Santa Monica may have been malicious

[UPDATE: 12:07 p.m.] Chabad’s Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, in a release to The Journal, confirmed that Chabad of Santa Monica was not targeted in this morning's incident. "The S. Monica Police Department ... officially labeled the incident to be a 'Construction Accident' caused by hazardous construction materials left in the alley near the Chabad House in Santa Monica."

Capt. Judah Mitchell of the Santa Monica Fire Department said that the incident is being labeled an "industrial accident."

Evacuees are returning to their residences and workplaces, Santa Monic Patch reported.

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[UPDATE: 11:20 a.m.] Capt. Judah Mitchell of the Santa Monica Fire Department says there was an explosion at 6:45 a.m. that occurred in a multi-residential home adjacent to Chabad of Santa Monica.

“It’s pretty sensitive when it’s next door to a synagogue. At this time they don’t consider it a hate crime,” he said.

Investigators have already ruled out a pipe bomb as the cause of the explosion, Mitchell said. The FBI and the bomb squad are continuing to investigate.

“It could be more of an accidental industrial type thing than anything,” he said.

Lauralee Asch, a spokeswoman with the Santa Monica Police Department, said the the cause is being attributed to a mechanical failure.

[UPDATE 10:50 a.m.] Chabad's Rabbi Chaim Cunin told The Journal that police have closed off the area, but that there was no explosion at Chabad of Santa Monica.

“There was no explosion. They’re performing a sweep of some kind. Information is very limited,” he said. "This morning, when they got the call to evacuate, we were told at the time that there was a possible gas leak in the area."

“We are waiting for the police and their investigation to get back to us.”

In an update on its Web site, Chabad of Santa Monica reported: "In response to news reports of a pipe bomb in our facility. During morning services today the police department came to Chabad House in response to a report of an explosion. The men that were praying did not hear or feel anything. Rabbi Levitansky grabbed on[e] of the new Torah scrolls so they can finish services. Which they did at the corner of 17th and Santa Monica."

[9:05 a.m.] An explosion occurred outside of the Chabad House of Santa Monica this morning, Santa Monica Patch.com reports.

The explosion occurred at the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica, not the Santa Monica Synagogue, as previously reported. The Chabad House is located at 1428 17th St.; the Santa Monica Synagogue is at 1448 18th St.

Rabbi Isaac Levitansky told Santa Monica Patch on Thursday morning that he wasn't sure if the bomb was intended for the synagogue, or what the motivation for planting it may have been if it was.

"We didn't hear anything" when the bomb exploded, he said. "We were in the middle of morning prayers. Thank God everyone was OK."

Read more at Patch Santa Monica.

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