About Time: Charges Filed Against Wisconsin Man in Firebombing of Pro-Life Center

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Following the leak of the Dobbs decision last May, there were protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, accompanied by a notable uptick in attacks on churches and pro-life centers. One such center, Wisconsin Family Action, was firebombed and vandalized in the days following the leak of the decision.

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As Bonchie observed at the time:

It’s also worth mentioning that had this been an abortion clinic being attacked, it would have been national news. As it stands, it’s a local news story because it doesn’t fit the mainstream media’s narrative. But make no mistake, this is domestic terrorism. Will the FBI put out a statement and acknowledge the dangers of left-wing radicalism? Don’t hold your breath.

That was sage advice as very few repercussions seemed to follow these attacks. In fact, when Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the beginning of March, he gave a jaw-droppingly ridiculous response to questioning by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) regarding the disparate way in which the DOJ appeared to be handling the prosecution of pro-life activists versus pro-abortion activists.

During their exchange, Lee questioned Garland as to why, with over 80 reported attacks on pregnancy centers, the DOJ had thus far only charged two individuals in relation to those attacks. Garland’s response (minus the countless “uhs” and “ums” peppering his comments)?

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I will say you are quite right — there are many prosecutions more with respect to the blocking of the abortion centers, but that is generally because they are — those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy. 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, the Justice Department and the FBI have made outreach to Catholic and other organizations to ask for their help in identifying the people who are doing this. We will prosecute every case against a pregnancy resource center that we can make, but these people who are doing this are clever and are doing it in secret, and I am convinced that the FBI is…trying to find them with urgency.

Here’s a brief clip of that mind-boggling response to a reasonable question to really give you the flavor of it:

As I noted at the time:

[I]t’s rather alarming to learn that the preeminent law enforcement agency in America apparently finds itself stymied by those “clever” criminals who elect to wreak their havoc under the cover of night (as opposed to those Dumb Doras* who openly protest in daylight on behalf of unborn children), even while they openly claim responsibility for their acts. I’m a little concerned the AG’s testimony today might give some of those extra wily criminal sorts ideas about perpetrating their misdeeds after hours.

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Well, good news! It seems that since Garland’s embarrassingly poor appearance before the Senate, the DOJ has managed to find a culprit in the attack on Wisconsin Family Action.

According to the DOJ’s release, Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, of Madison, is charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive, and was arrested earlier on Tuesday in Boston.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement. “I commend the commitment and professionalism of law enforcement personnel who worked exhaustively to ensure that justice is served.”

“Violence is never an acceptable way for anyone to express their views or their disagreement,” Assistant Director Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division also said in the statement. “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.”

Per the DOJ’s statement, law enforcement collected DNA from the scene during the investigation.

In March 2023, law enforcement identified Roychowdhury as a possible suspect. Local police officers observed Roychowdhury dispose of food in a public trash can; the officers recovered the leftover food and related items, and law enforcement collected DNA from the food. On March 17, 2023, law enforcement advised that a forensic biologist examined the DNA evidence recovered from the attack scene and compared it to the DNA collected from the food contents. The forensic biologist found the two samples matched and likely were the same individual.

In March 2023, Roychowdhury travelled from Madison, Wisconsin, to Portland, Maine, and he purchased a one-way ticket from Boston to Guatemala City, departing this morning. Law enforcement arrested Roychowdhury at Boston Logan International Airport. Roychowdhury will have a detention hearing in Boston.

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While I congratulate the DOJ on identifying a suspect and wish them the best in bringing him to justice, I have two observations to add. 1) The attack on Wisconsin Family Action happened on May 8, 2022, some 10 months ago. Merrick Garland’s above-referenced testimony occurred on March 1, 2023. Then, (sometime) in March 2023, Roychowdhury was identified as a possible suspect and his DNA was subsequently obtained and tested against the scene sample. We, of course, are not privy to how Roychowdhury was identified as a possible suspect or what investigation went on in the intervening months, but I’m just going to note that the timing is…interesting. 2) Roychowdhury was apprehended while trying to shuffle off to Guatemala City, presumably in an effort to evade arrest. We’re not privy (at least from the DOJ statement) to whether there had been any contact between law enforcement and Roychowdhury prior to his attempt to leave the country, but something or someone appears to have caused him to believe he might be about to get pinched.

In any event, it’s good to see some justice (finally) being meted out for this sort of attack.

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