DNA from partially eaten burrito used to charge man with firebombing anti-abortion office

A Wisconsin man was charged with firebombing an anti-abortion office after investigators used DNA extracted from a partially eaten burrito to connect him to the crime, authorities said.

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According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, of Madison, was arrested in Boston on Tuesday and charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive.

Roychowdhury was arrested at Logan International Airport, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. He made an initial appearance in federal court in Boston on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. A detention hearing is set for Thursday.

Roychowdhury’s attorney, Brendan O. Kelley, declined comment when reached by telephone after Tuesday’s hearing, the AP reported.

Roychowdhury was charged in connection with the firebombing of the office of Wisconsin Family Action in Madison on May 8, 2022, NBC News reported.

“If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either,” was written on the wall of the building during the attack, the news outlet reported.

According to the criminal complaint, investigators determined that the fire, set at about 6 a.m. CDT, was incendiary and had “the appearance and components” of a Molotov cocktail, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Earlier this month, law enforcement officials identified Roychowdhury as a possible suspect, according to the news release. The suspect drove to a park-and-ride lot in Madison, where he discarded a bag of fast food that included a partially burrito, NBC News reported.

According to the complaint, the bag contained “a quarter portion of a partially eaten burrito wrapped in waxed paper, a soiled napkin, a crumpled napkin, a stack of napkins, the wrapper of the burrito, a crumpled food wrapper, four unopened hot sauce packets,” according to the affidavit.

On March 17, a forensic biologist examined the DNA evidence recovered from the attack scene and compared it to the DNA extracted from the bag of food, the news release stated. The forensic biologist determined that the two samples matched and were likely the same person.

“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.”

Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling had no comment Tuesday about the arrest, according to the AP.

If convicted, Roychowdhury faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years, according to the Journal Sentinel.

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