Federal authorities have arrested a Wisconsin man they were investigating over the May firebombing of a Madison anti-abortion organization as he was attempting to board a plane with a one-way ticket out of the country.
Police arrested Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, on Tuesday at Boston’s Logan International Airport where, with ticket in hand, he was preparing to board a plane that morning for Guatemala City, the capital of the Central American country with the same name.
Prosecutors said he has been charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosion for the May 8 arson attack on the Madison office of Wisconsin Family Action, a Christian political organization that stands against abortion and marriage between those of the same sex.
Law enforcement did not identify the victim organization, but its president, Julaine Appling, had issued a statement following the attack, saying it had targeted their Madison offices.
That morning, police were called to the scene at about 6 a.m. over an active fire. Law enforcement searched the premises and discovered two mason jars that are believed to have been used to ignite the blaze.
Outside the building on its west exterior wall, the words “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either,” were found spray painted in large black cursive letters. On the south-facing wall, a large “A” with a circle around it and the number “1312” were found,
The firebombing occurred days after a draft Supreme Court decision to overturn federal protections for abortion was leaked to the press, and the Madison anti-abortion organization had been vocal about its support for the ruling.
No suspect was identified at the time, but court documents state DNA was discovered on multiple pieces of evidence at the scene.
The case appeared to go quiet until mid-January when police, monitoring surveillance cameras guarding the state Capitol during a planned protest, observed a suspect spray paint “We will get revenge” on a wall in a cursive similar to that found in May on the exterior of the Madison office, an affidavit states.
After identifying the suspect as Roychowdhury, police observed him throw a brown fast food bag on a pile of trash in a parking lot on March 1. After he left the scene, police retrieved the bag and found a partially eaten burrito and a soiled napkin inside.
The burrito was then swabbed for DNA, with its results coming back earlier this month, and which matched DNA retrieved from evidence taken from the May firebombing scene, the affidavit said.
Prosecutors said that Roychowdhury was arrested after having traveled from Madison to Portland, Maine, where he purchased a one-way ticket from Boston to Guatemala City.
“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,” Special Agent in Charge Michael Hensle of the FBI Milwaukee Field Office said in a statement.
“The arrest today represents these efforts and highlights the work done by law enforcement to protect the safety of our citizens.”
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