Chabad bomb suspect pleads not guilty

A homeless man pleaded not guilty to charges of detonating an explosive device outside a Southern California Chabad house.

Ron Hirsch, 60, entered his plea last week in federal court in Los Angeles. He could face up to 70 years in prison.

He is charged with using an explosive device to damage property, using an explosive to commit a federal felony, using a destructive device during a crime of violence and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Hirsch, also known as Israel Fisher, was indicted in Los Angeles earlier this month for the April 7 blast at the Santa Monica Chabad house, which forced the evacuation of the Jewish center and synagogue during early morning prayers.

He was arrested four days later in a suburban Cleveland synagogue and Jewish center by the FBI and local police shortly after evening prayers as he sat studying from a Jewish text. A local rabbi had recognized his photo from a Jewish website.

The explosion launched a 300-pound metal pipe encased in concrete, which smashed through the roof of a home next door to the Chabad house. — jta