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Calif. Chabad House bomber dies in federal custody

(JTA) — A homeless man accused of setting off a bomb outside a Southern California Chabad House has died in federal custody.

Ron Hirsch, 62, who set off the bomb in April 2011 at the Santa Monica Chabad House, died last month at a federal medical center in North Carolina, the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles reported.

He died of ischemic heart disease, according to reports, and also had mental health problems that had caused several postponements of his trial.

The bomb attack did not cause any injuries or deaths, but did damage the Chabad House and a home next door.

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. It was initially classified by police as an industrial accident. Items found near the site were linked to Hirsch, who fled across country by Greyhound bus.

Hirsch 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.

He faced up to 70 years in prison; Federal prosecutors have filed an order to dismiss the indictment against Hirsch due to his death.

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