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Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Wisconsin Man Sentenced to Prison for 2022 Firebombing of Madison Building

Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, of Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced today to 90 months in federal prison for attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive to a building in Madison. Roychowdhury attacked the building with a Molotov cocktail in the wake of the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overruling Roe v. Wade. He targeted the building because it was occupied by an organization that opposed abortion. Roychowdhury pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2023.

“The sentence imposed today is the result of innovative work by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors who tirelessly investigated this case,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “It is also a reminder that the Justice Department will hold accountable those who turn to violence as a means of intimidation.”

“The FBI will not stand for the use of violence or criminal activity to express personal views on any matter,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “Today’s sentencing is the result of the FBI’s commitment to use all of our resources to aggressively pursue anyone who uses violent tactics in an attempt to impose their views on others.”

“Engaging in an act of terror – in this case, firebombing a business because of their beliefs – is criminal and unamerican. As today’s sentencing demonstrates, it won’t be tolerated,” said Director Stephen Dettelbach of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “I commend the collaborative efforts by all the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation, and I commend the expertise of ATF’s forensic laboratory, and the assistance from the ATF Boston Field Division, for their dedication. In this case, the DNA testing led to the swift arrest of this defendant and made the community safer.”

“Roychowdhury’s arson was an act of domestic terrorism,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea for the Western District of Wisconsin. “Domestic terrorism is cowardly and profoundly undemocratic. It is not speech; it is not an exchange of ideas; instead, it is an attempt to harm or frighten one’s fellow citizens, thus driving Americans apart and weakening the fabric of our democratic society. The U.S. Department of Justice, and this U.S. Attorney’s Office, with our local and federal law enforcement partners will never flinch from holding domestic terrorists accountable.” 

On May 8, 2022, at approximately 6:06 a.m., law enforcement responded to an active fire at an office building located in Madison. Once inside the building, police observed a mason jar under a broken window; the jar was broken and the lid and screw top were burned black. The police also saw a purple disposable lighter near the mason jar. On the opposite wall from the window, the police saw another mason jar with the lid on and a blue cloth tucked into the top; the cloth was singed. The jar was about half full of a clear fluid that smelled like an accelerant. Outside of the building, someone spray painted on one wall, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” and, on another wall, a large “A” with a circle around it and the number “1312.” During the investigation, law enforcement collected DNA from the scene of the attack.

In January 2023, after reviewing surveillance video of an individual spray painting “We will get revenge” on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Capitol, law enforcement observed visual similarities to the graffiti that had been spray painted at the scene of the firebombing the year before. 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. The contents of the bag included a quarter portion of a partially eaten burrito. Law enforcement swabbed the burrito for DNA and sent the swab to an ATF lab. 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 to Portland, Maine, and he purchased a one-way ticket from Boston to Guatemala City, departing March 28, 2023. Law enforcement arrested Roychowdhury at Boston Logan International Airport that day.

The Madison Police Department, Wisconsin State Capitol Police Department, ATF, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, and Dane County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the FBI Boston Field Office, Boston Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Air Marshal Service, and Transportation Security Administration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman for the Western District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Beck for the District of Massachusetts handled the defendant’s appearance in Boston following his arrest.

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