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UC Davis chemist arraigned on explosives, waste disposal, and firearms charges

UC Davis chemist David Snyder was arraigned this afternoon on three counts of reckless disposal of hazardous waste, three counts of possession of a destructive device or explosive, one count of possession of materials with intent to make a destructive device, and two counts of possessing or bringing a firearm onto campus. All ten counts are felonies.

He’s currently in jail with bail set at $2 million. He has a bail hearing scheduled for Feb. 8.

From the Associated Press:

Snyder’s defense attorney, Linda Parisi, said her client had the materials for research.

“What happened in Dr. Snyder’s apartment was an accident. He harbored no intent to build or detonate an explosive device,” she said. “He is a chemist working on a variety of projects.”

Snyder has a doctorate in chemistry from the university. University spokeswoman Claudia Morain said he was involved in a chemistry department project “focused on small molecule synthetic organic chemistry.” She could not say if chemicals used in that research were dangerous or explosive.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Yolo County prosecutors say UC Davis researcher David Snyder had liquid and solid explosive materials and the components to detonate them when he triggered an explosion in his Davis apartment Jan. 17. He also had help, they allege.

“There was somebody who helped him,” said Michael Cabral, assistant chief deputy district attorney, who is prosecuting the case, following Snyder’s arraignment on explosives and weapons charges Thursday. Cabral said the person is connected to UC Davis, but is not a faculty member, and was questioned by authorities.

From CBS13:

The facts are coming out slowly, and according to a CBS13 source, on the day the suspect was arrested, materials used to make explosives were found in several dumpsters around Davis. If the chemicals had exploded, the outcome could have been deadly.

David Snyder, the UC Davis researcher with access to hazardous and dangerous materials to make explosives, may have gotten them from his job. According to a CBS13 source, investigators believe some of the chemicals found inside Snyder’s apartment came from a UC Davis laboratory.

After the explosion, the source says someone went to Snyder’s home before the bomb squad arrived and removed part of the chemicals, only to dispose of them in dumpsters around Davis.

And from UC Davis:

As immediate, interim measures, the administration has:

  • Asked the UC Davis Police Department to evaluate how we might strengthen our communication with members of the campus community about the state law that prohibits firearms on campus, with particular focus on possession of firearms in student housing.
  • Initiated a focused administrative review of current practices within the Department of Chemistry regulating the storage, security and disposal of hazardous materials. Obviously, theft of university property for personal use is against university policy and is a crime.
  • Conducted meetings with both concerned residents and neighbors of the Russell Park housing complex as well as students, faculty and staff in the chemistry department.

Additionally, as part of the ongoing investigation, UC Davis police today coordinated an on-site inspection of the laboratory in which Snyder was a junior researcher. Some chemicals were removed during the inspection and will be disposed of properly.

UPDATE with a few more details from the Daily Democrat, which also shows a photo of Snyder’s heavily bandaged arm:

“We determined that chemicals were moved from the property into four separate Dumpsters in the community,” Cabral said. He said the other person, who remains unidentified, was interviewed but has not been charged.

Pressed for details, Cabral said he did believe the “finished destructive devices” found in Snyder’s apartment were in fact intended to be bombs.

Cabral also noted that “some of the items” found in Snyder’s apartment “were removed from the (UC Davis) labs.”

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