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  • Randall Benton /

    Researcher David Snyder leaves Yolo County court in Woodland on Thursday after being arraigned in connection with a Jan. 17 explosion in his Davis apartment. His left hand was injured in the blast.

  • Randall Benton /

    Yolo prosecutor Michael Cabral told reporters after the arraignment of David Snyder that authorities have questioned a per- son he called Snyder's accomplice, who is linked to UC Davis but is not a faculty member.


    An attorney for David Snyder said the explosion in his Davis apartment was an accident and that Snyder "had no intent of building bombs" or any animosity toward UC Davis.

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UC Davis researcher accused of making explosives had accomplice, officials say

Published: Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 - 3:06 pm | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:59 pm

Yolo County prosecutors say UC Davis chemistry 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 an accomplice, prosecutors said.

"There was somebody who helped him," said Michael Cabral, Yolo County 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. The suspect was questioned by authorities.

Snyder remains held at Yolo County jail in lieu of $2 million bail pending a Feb. 8 bail hearing.

Snyder faces 10 felony counts in all, including possessing explosives and materials to make explosives and having firearms on university property.

Snyder, who earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from UC Davis in 2004 and completed doctoral studies in 2011, was a junior specialist at UC Davis on a two-month contract that was to end this month, said campus officials. He has been placed on investigatory leave from the university.

Prosecutors allege Snyder illegally disposed of hazardous materials in trash bins on and off the campus.

Police reportedly called for the high bail, citing Snyder's potential to flee Davis and the danger they believed he represented to the community, Cabral said.

Calls to UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael and university Provost Ralph Hexter were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Campus spokeswoman Claudia Morain declined to comment on Cabral's remarks, citing the ongoing investigation.

Earlier, his hand heavily bandaged, Snyder appeared for arraignment in a jail-issued uniform as his attorney Jessica Graves requested that his bail be reduced.

The Davis man was quiet and expressionless throughout the hearing, sitting at a far corner of the jury box, away from other inmates.

Graves maintained after the brief hearing that the Jan. 17 explosion at Snyder's apartment was accidental. "We look forward to the process to clear his name," Graves said.

On Wednesday, Sacramento defense attorney Linda Parisi told The Bee her client is a chemist dedicated to the University of California system. She said the 1 a.m. explosion that wrecked Snyder's home, leading to the evacuation of his apartment complex and his subsequent arrest, was an unfortunate accident.

"Dr. Snyder is a chemist. He works with those chemicals. It was an accident," Parisi said. "He had no intent of building bombs. He has no animosity toward the school. He's very sorry for the negative attention he has brought to the university and his work."

Meanwhile, university officials released a statement after Snyder's hearing Thursday, outlining university actions as a result of the blast.

Officials said campus police inspected Snyder's lab and removed some chemicals. They were detonating them into the evening Thursday.

The university said it was conducting an administrative review of storage, security and disposal practices in the chemistry department and evaluating how the university communicates its campuswide ban on firearms with the UC Davis community.

Calling safety "our top priority," Ralph J. Hexter, UC Davis provost and executive vice chancellor, said, "We are committed to taking all necessary and appropriate steps" to ensure the university's safety.

Students and campus officials remain troubled this week over the early morning explosion that injured the researcher and chased more than 70 residents in his Russell Park apartment complex from their homes.

In an email Tuesday to university personnel, campus spokeswoman Morain said allegations against Snyder were "highly concerning."

"Although there has been no information to suggest that Mr. Snyder was plotting some broader crime on the campus, in today's environment the potential safety risk to the community must be taken extremely seriously," the email read.

Russell Park residents sought reassurance at the Tuesday forum conducted by UC Davis police, university officials and the head of Yolo County's bomb detail that their homes were safe from further danger.

Carmichael said residences were safe from explosive materials or any remnants of chemicals destroyed in Snyder's apartment or later by bomb squad.

Still, Carmichael and Yolo County Bomb Squad Cmdr. Nick Concolino did not downplay the risk the materials had posed to residents and first responders alike.

"If you feel you were at risk before this incident, you were right," Carmichael told residents. "These were very unstable homemade materials."

"We were dealing with improvised, handmade explosives. Because they were improvised, it is whatever the maker decides it to be – we're not talking about something manufactured," Concolino said.

Later, Concolino told a reporter, "This was a very serious emergency. Our goal was to return to normalcy as soon as possible."

Attempts by The Bee to speak with Snyder, 32, at the Yolo County jail in Woodland have been rebuffed by jail officials, who said he has declined all interview requests.

He's not the only one keeping quiet. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco – where, according to his LinkedIn profile, Snyder was a postdoctoral fellow involved in cystic fibrosis research – have been directed not to speak to reporters.

UCSF officials later said Snyder did not work at the university but was paid by a UCSF scientist, Dr. Alan Verkman, to perform chemistry work during a yearlong postdoctoral appointment that ended in November.

Snyder appeared to have been held in high regard at the Davis campus. His research focused on compounds to treat diseases in developing areas of the world, according to campus officials.

In 2005, he received an Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award, said UC Davis officials, and, in the 2008-09 academic year, was awarded $10,000 from the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation for his work

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