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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Explosion at Russell Park leads to criminal investigation

The UC Davis Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation into a chemical explosion that took place in an apartment in Russell Park during the early morning hours last Thursday.

The resident of the apartment, David Snyder, who was temporarily working as junior researcher at UC Davis, was injured during the explosion and was taken to a nearby hospital. Snyder was arrested and booked into the Yolo County Jail on Sunday.

Snyder is currently charged with possession of an explosive, possession of materials with an intent to make explosives and two counts of possession of a firearm on campus, with the potential of more charges. It took 20 hours for the Yolo County Bomb Squad to make the apartment safe. There is no information to suggest that Snyder was plotting any act of terrorism on campus.

According to UC Davis Chief of Police Matthew Carmichael, five buildings were evacuated at Russell Park, with a total of 40 units and 74 persons being displaced. Tandem Properties and UC Davis Student Affairs provided housing and food to those individuals.

“Experts on the scene decided that some substances were not safe to transport a long distance, so bomb technicians found a safe space, off of Orchard Park, where they could destroy the substances safely,” Carmichael said.

At a press conference held on Saturday evening, Commander Nick Concolino of the Yolo County Bomb Squad said that many improvised or homemade explosives can be made by using readily available materials, which is part of the ongoing investigation to determine where the materials came from.

“Living at Russell Park for the past two years has not made me feel unsafe. But since the incident of the explosives, it makes me wonder how many other grad students are experimenting with their lab work in a residential environment,” said Ayda Soltani, a third-year civil engineering student and resident at Russell Park apartments. “I hope his intentions were not to harm anyone, but he should’ve [taken] into account that he was risking residents’ lives and a lot of children who attend the daycare on the complex. I guess even a PhD degree won’t get you common sense.”

In addition to the Yolo County Bomb Squad, teams that were involved at rendering the apartment safe included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); California Highway Patrol and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

“I was shocked that something like this could happen in Russell Park,” said Imaan Taghavi, a second-year civil engineering major and resident at Russell Park apartments. “It is such a benign complex — there are never parties or cops for anything here. I am glad that the police were able to control the situation, as there was a potential for it to be a lot worse than it was.”

Snyder’s bail is set at $2 million. Snyder received a bachelor’s degree and PhD in Chemistry from UC Davis in 2004 and 2011, respectively. His temporary position as a chemistry researcher was set to expire at the end of January.

NATASHA QABAZARD can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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