Boston, Mass., Mar 29, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
A Wisconsin man was arrested and charged with violating federal law in connection with the May 2022 firebombing of a pro-life organization’s Madison office. The case was solved thanks to DNA evidence taken from a half-eaten burrito out of a trash can, the Department of Justice said.
Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, was arrested in Boston on Tuesday, just before getting on a flight to Guatemala City, according to the DOJ. He was charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Almost a month before Roychowdhury’s arrest, law enforcement began scouting him out as a possible suspect. After watching Roychowdhury throw away a fast food bag into the trash on May 1, 2022, law enforcement retrieved the bag, which was filled with “a quarter portion of a partially eaten burrito wrapped in waxed paper,” and other food items, the complaint said.
A forensic biologist swabbed DNA from the burrito and the bag and found that it was a match with the DNA from the crime scene.
The Wisconsin Family Action office was damaged in an early morning arson attack on May 8, 2022, in which the perpetrator also left behind pro-abortion graffiti. The attack came just days after the news outlet Politico published a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court, indicating that justices were poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide.
Wisconsin Family Action was just one of the first of many pro-life organizations to experience vandalism and intimidation tactics following the leak.
To date, 34 Catholic churches, 60 pregnancy centers, one maternity home, three political organizations, six billboards, one political figure, and one memorial have been targeted in pro-abortion attacks following the Supreme Court leak in May 2022.
As part of the Mother’s Day attack, the words “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either,” were spray-painted outside the building. Variations of that same pro-abortion threat have been left at several other pregnancy centers across the nation.
According to the complaint, police found two mason jars inside the building on the day of the attack near a disposable lighter. The lid and “screw top” of one were burned black. The other mason jar was intact and filled with flammable fluid.
The complaint said that DNA from three different individuals was found on evidence from the crime scene.
The Department of Justice did not respond to inquiries as to whether Roychowdhury acted alone in the crime in time for publication.
Roychowdhury, an engineer at a Madison biotech company, holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Violence is never an acceptable way for anyone to express their views or their disagreement,” Robert R. Wells, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, said in the DOJ’s press release.
“Today’s arrest demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to vigorously pursue those responsible for this dangerous attack and others across the country and to hold them accountable for their criminal actions.”
The FBI has come under fire in the past year for its low arrest rate for attacks on pro-life pregnancy institutions. Only three arrests have been made out of the 60 attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers.
Additionally, many pro-lifers and federal lawmakers have argued that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice has been targeting pro-lifers in aggressive and disproportionate use of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act toward those who defend life.
The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
On Jan. 30, pro-life activist Mark Houck was found not guilty in federal court after the government tried to prove that he violated the FACE Act while sidewalk counseling with his then 12-year-old son.
Merrick Garland, who heads the Department of Justice, testified to lawmakers in March that there is no bias in the department and that more pro-lifers have been charged under the FACE Act because they are more easily caught violating the law.
“There are many more prosecutions with respect to the blocking of the abortion centers, but that is generally because those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy,” Garland said.
“Those who are attacking the pregnancy resource centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night in the dark. We have put full resources on this. We have put rewards out for this,” he added.
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