Madison man charged in firebombing of anti-abortion office
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison man was arrested in Boston Tuesday on charges connected to the firebombing of a Madison anti-abortion office building in May of 2022.
Hridndu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, is charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive, according to court documents. Early in the morning of May 8, 2022, two Molotov cocktails were thrown into the Wisconsin Family Action building, in the 2800 block of International Lane, Madison Police previously stated.
Law enforcement officials said DNA evidence helped confirm Roychowdhury was connected to the attack, after he was identified as the suspect in March. Local police officers saw Roychowdhury dispose of food into a public trash can and later collected DNA from the food and other items, according to the criminal complaint. Two weeks ago, a forensic biologist matched DNA from the food with DNA evidence from the attack scene.
Roychowdhury traveled in March from Madison to Portland, Maine, and bought a one-way ticket from Boston to Guatemala City, which was set to leave Tuesday morning, according to the Dept. of Justice. Local law enforcement in Boston arrested Roychowdhury at Boston Logan International Airport Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Boston Tuesday. A date for his appearance in federal court in Madison has not yet been set.
Madison Police Department Chief Shon Barnes praised the work of detectives who investigated this case.
“For months, our detectives remained committed to finding those responsible for this arson,” Barnes said. “When tips and leads were limited, they never gave up. Their persistence is proof that hateful acts do not have a place in Madison. I applaud their work and want to thank our federal partners for all of their help leading up to this arrest.”
Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling said the organization had, “No comment at this time.”
The Madison Fire Department responded to the reports of flames at around 6 a.m. the day of the incident to the 2800 block of International Lane. Crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire and no one was hurt.
Police discovered a mason jar under a broken window. The mason jar was shattered and its lid and screw top were burned black, the complaint detailed. Police also found a disposable lighter near the mason jar, as well as a second mason jar with the lid on and a cloth tucked into the top. The complaint noted that the second jar was half full of clear liquid that smelled like an accelerant.
Graffiti was also found at the scene. The words “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” were painted on the outside of the building as well as an “A” symbol with the numbers “1312″.
During a news conference the day after the incident, Robert Payne with FBI Milwaukee stated that it was an ongoing investigation and his agency is working with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin to discuss potential charges. Barnes noted that the suspected arson was not being investigated as a terroristic threat, nor was there any indication that it was an inside job.
If convicted, Roychowdhury faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
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