A half-eaten burrito led to the arrest of a Madison man in connection with the Mother’s Day 2022 firebombing of the Wisconsin Family Action headquarters building.
Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, has been charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Madison.
“According to the complaint, Mr. Roychowdhury used an incendiary device in violation of federal law in connection with his efforts to terrorize and intimidate a private organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “I commend the commitment and professionalism of law enforcement personnel who worked exhaustively to ensure that justice is served.”
Earlier this month, law enforcement officials identified Roychowdhury as a possible suspect, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Madison police saw him toss the leftovers of his burrito in a trash can. Officers recovered the leftover food and related items, and took a DNA sample.
A forensic biologist compared DNA evidence recovered from the attack scene with the burrito. The samples matched, and likely were the same individual, according to a press release.
Subsequently, Roychowdhury traveled from Madison to Portland, Maine, the U.S. attorney said. He purchased a one-way ticket from Boston to Guatemala City, departing Tuesday, the complaint states. Law enforcement officials arrested Roychowdhury at Boston Logan International Airport.
He was scheduled to appear in U.S. district court in Boston on Wednesday. A date for his appearance in federal court in Madison has not been set.
“The FBI conducts investigations when someone crosses the line from expression of protected personal beliefs to violations of federal law,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Hensle of the FBI Milwaukee Field Office in the statement. “We remained vigilant during this investigation and worked with our law enforcement partners to methodically and thoroughly address every aspect of this act of violence. The arrest today represents these efforts and highlights the work done by law enforcement to protect the safety of our citizens.”
The Christian pro-family, pro-life center was attacked in the early morning hours of May 8, 2022 — Mother’s Day. Police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown through a window, which started a fire. A frightening message was spray-painted on the building’s exterior wall: “If abortions aren’t’ Safe then you aren’t either.”
The radical pro-abortion group Jane’s Revenge claimed responsibility for the violent crime and for potentially dozens more of the more than 100 attacks on pro-life clinic and churches across the country. The acts of terrorism popped up following leaked reports suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court was set to overturn Roe v. Wade, which the court eventually did in June in its landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling.
Federal law enforcement officials don’t say how Roychowdhury became a suspect in the Madison bombing. They do note police discovered a broken mason jar under the smashed window of the Wisconsin Family Action offices. Officers also found a purple disposable lighter near the jar. Another jar with its lid still on was found on the opposite wall from the window. A blue, singed cloth was tucked into the top of the mason jar, which was nearly half full of a clear fluid “that smelled like an accelerant.”
Law enforcement officials collected DNA from the scene.
“This group of local and federal law enforcement officers has worked, with the federal prosecutors, diligently and creatively to move the investigation forward,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea for the Western District of Wisconsin. “This case is an example of the results law enforcement can achieve when local and federal law investigators work as a team.”
Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, told The Wisconsin Daily Star she cannot comment at this time.
In the days after the attack, Appling and her staff received several threatening messages. “I hope you all burn with it … that’s what you deserve,” one anonymous caller said in a voicemail message. “Burn, little Jesus freaks, burn, burn, burn!” another unidentified caller said in a message.
“Tolerance cannot be a one-way street, and if we are to preserve a free society, we must always hold accountable those who promise violence against others and their deeply held beliefs,” Appling wrote days after the attack. “I echo the concerns of many other Wisconsinites who believe as we do, that we should all be able to live out our beliefs without intimidation and violence.”
“Let me very clear: WFA will not stop lawfully fighting for the unborn no matter what threats may come,” she added.
Police continued to work the case, but could rarely provide any new information.
“For months, our detectives remained committed to finding those responsible for this arson. When tips and leads were limited, they never gave up,” Madison Police Chief Shon F. Barnes said in the statement. “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.”
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Wisconsin Family Action Office” by Wisconsin Family Action.
Good job guys.
No matter what side you are on his unlawful behavior should be punished by whomever perpetrates it.
I am strongly pro-choice, but this kind of action by this suspect goes well beyond the pale. No matter what the law is, it must be followed regardless of political belief. The proper method of disagreement is via the ballot box. Simply stated: If you disagree with a political policy, vote the scoundrels out and elect those with whom you agree. THAT will change the policy and no damage to property, or person will occur.