Wisconsin man arrested in anti-abortion group office bombing
A partially eaten burrito and Instagram post led to the Tuesday arrest of a man suspected of burning down the office of a Wisconsin anti-abortion lobby group in May 2022.
Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, of Madison, Wisconsin, was charged Monday in federal court with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive “to terrorize and intimidate a private organization,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Matthew Olsen said. a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Authorities had been searching for nearly a year for Roychowdhury, accused of burning down the offices of Wisconsin Family Action on May 8, 2022. At the scene of that incident, investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found evidence of two Molotov cocktails, one of which did not ignite.
Also found spray-painted on the outside of the building: “If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you.”
No one was in office at the time of the incident, which took place a week after a US Supreme Court draft decision leaked showing a majority of justices planned to vote to overturn the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade who established a constitutional right. to abortion. (In June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans no longer have this constitutional right.)
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DNA collected in Wisc. firebombs eventually matched, authorities say
Investigators collected DNA at the scene but did not get an immediate match.
Subsequently, police monitoring surveillance video of a protest at the State Capitol in Madison on Jan. 21, 2023 saw a suspect spray paint, “We’ll get revenge” in a style resembling the graffiti of the May 2022 incident, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
The protest came in the wake of the police killing of a 26-year-old man in Atlanta.
Using additional surveillance video, investigators identified a white Toyota pickup leaving this scene. His license plate led to Roychowdhury’s residence in Madison, according to the complaint.
Investigators also found an Instagram post about the Jan. 21, 2023, “Stop Cop City” event with a “like” from what appeared to be Roychowdhury’s Instagram profile, the complaint states.
Police began following him, and on March 1 recovered a bag of fast food including a partially eaten burrito he had thrown away from a trash can, according to the complaint. An ATF forensic biologist found that the DNA sample from the burrito and the DNA from the firebombing scene “matched and were likely the same individual,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Officers arrested Roychowdhury at Boston Logan International Airport on Tuesday. He had traveled from Madison, Wisconsin, to Portland, Maine, and purchased a one-way ticket for Tuesday by plane from Boston to Guatemala City, the U.S. attorney said.
Roychowdhury made a first appearance in federal court in Boston on Tuesday and has a detention hearing on Thursday. Roychowdhury’s attorney, Brendan O. Kelley, who is listed in online court filings as a federal public defender, declined to comment when reached by phone by The Associated Press after Tuesday’s hearing. .
A date for his appearance in federal court in Madison has not been set. If convicted, Roychowdhury faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
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Contributor: Drake Bentley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Associated Press.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.