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Press Release

Madison Man Sentenced to 7 ½ Years in Prison for Attempted Firebombing of Madison Building in 2022

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. – Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, 29, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 7 ½ years 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 homemade explosive device 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 to the charge on December 1, 2023.

Roychowdhury’s arson was an act of domestic terrorism,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea. “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 Sunday, May 8, 2022, at approximately 6:06 a.m., law enforcement responded to an active fire at an office building located in Madison. Inside an office in the building under a broken window, police observed a broken mason jar with the lid and screw top burned black. The police also found 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 singed blue cloth tucked into the top. The jar was about half full of a clear fluid that smelled like an accelerant. On an outside wall of the building, someone spray painted, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.” 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 February 2023, law enforcement identified Roychowdhury as a possible suspect. On March 1, 2023, 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, a forensic biologist from the ATF Forensic Laboratory examined the DNA evidence recovered from the attack scene and compared it to the DNA collected from the food contents and determined that the two samples matched and likely were the same individual.

On March 23, 2023, Roychowdhury travelled from Madison to Portland, Maine, planning to depart Boston for Guatemala on March 28, 2023. Law enforcement arrested Roychowdhury at Boston Logan International Airport that day as he arrived for his flight.

At sentencing, Judge Conley repeatedly referred to the bombing as an act of terrorism, finding that Roychowdhury “engaged in a deliberate act of terrorism toward a group advocating a different view” from his own. Judge Conley recognized the fear that the bombing and spray-painted threat caused the employees of the targeted organization, observing that Roychowdhury had not yet apologized to those victims or their families. Finally, Judge Conley noted that Roychowdhury had a “deep hate and anger that in his mind justified firebombing a building.”

“Acts of violent extremism undermine the foundation which supports our democracy and compromise the ability for everyone to live their lives as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States,” said Milwaukee FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Hensle. “The outcome today represents the tireless efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who are dedicated to identifying and bringing to justice any individual or groups of individuals who threaten and/or commit acts of violence against the citizens of Wisconsin.”

“Firebombing is a cowardly way to get a point across, and it is my hope this case will provide a deterrence for anyone who might think about using the same tactic in the future,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Travis Riddle, of the St. Paul Field Division. “This case result was due to a truly collaborative effort by all. I’m very proud of and thankful for the tireless and determined efforts that the combined local, state, and federal team put into this case. I would additionally like to thank ATF’s forensic laboratory, and the assistance from the ATF Boston Field Division, for their work in getting the DNA samples processed so quickly. This was a crucial piece of evidence that helped the case move forward, leading to Roychowdhury’s arrest before he could leave the country.”

The charge against Roychowdhury is the result of an investigation by the Madison Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit (FIU); Madison Police Department; Wisconsin State Capitol Police Department; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force; Homeland Security Investigations; and Dane County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the FBI Boston Field Office, ATF Boston, 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.

Updated April 10, 2024

Domestic Terrorism