- Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, vandalized and set fire in the Madison offices of the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Family Action in spring of 2022.
An Indian American man has pleaded guilty to the May 2022 firebombing of a Madison, Wisconsin office building. Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, vandalized and set fire to the Madison offices of Wisconsin Family Action, a pro-life group, in the spring of 2022, the Department of Justice announced last week. Roychowdhury, who was arrested in March and indicted by a grand jury in April, is charged with one count of attempting to cause damage through fire or an explosive.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Madison Fire and Police departments responded early in the morning on May 8, 2022, to a 911 call reporting flames coming from the organization’s office on Madison’s north side,
“If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was painted in cursive on the building’s outside wall, along with the “anarchy” symbol and an anti-police slogan. Another wall had a large “A” with a circle around it and the number “1312.”
An investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined the fire was started using a device “consistent with the appearance and components of a Molotov cocktail,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing the criminal complaint. The publication also noted that “the incident occurred days after a leaked draft indicated that the U.S. Supreme Court was about to overturn Roe v. Wade, its 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion.”
Investigators used DNA evidence, surveillance, and social media to track down Roychowdhury nearly a year after the incident. He was arrested on March 28 at the Boston Logan International Airport. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14.
At the time of Roychowdhury’s arrest in March, State Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc) “took to Twitter to address some troubling concerns” she had about him, according to The Associated Press. “It appears that he was just finishing up at the UW when this incident occurred and has since moved on,” Dittrich said. “The UW did contact my office because, frankly, they admitted they had never taken his staff page down. So, they apologized for that oversight on their part. And did let us know that we don’t have to worry about you know, asking for him to be terminated.”
Roychowdhury’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a “protein engineer and computational biologist,” who was a biology lab research assistant at UW Madison where he received a first author placement in the prestigious journal ‘Nature’ in February of 2022. He is currently employed with Promega, “a biotech firm based in Fitchburg, where he works as a research scientist.” His Facebook page, however, still says he is a graduate research assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a former research assistant at New Mexico State University.