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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Russell Park Apartments explosion court trial today

David Snyder, a junior researcher who allegedly caused the Jan. 17 explosion at the Russell Park Apartments, will be tried today in Yolo Superior Court. Snyder was released on a $2 million bail after he was arrested on Jan. 19 in connection to the explosion, according to a UC Davis News press release.

Under the conditions of his release, Snyder is not allowed to return to UC Davis without notifying the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD), said Claudia Morain, UC Davis spokesperson, in an email interview.

After Snyder was arrested, he was placed on leave from his junior specialist appointment, which ended on Jan. 31. He is not currently employed at the university.

Snyder was also charged with felony violations of California Penal Code 18715, custody of an explosive, California Penal Code 18720, possession of substances or materials used for making destructive devices or explosives, and two counts of holding a firearm on campus, according to a press release. The UCDPD is conducting a criminal investigation of the case, and further charges may be made.

Several agencies are handling the case, including Yolo County Bomb Squad, FBI, UC Davis Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), according to Matthew Carmichael, UC Davis Police Department Chief of Police.

Carmichael also said the explosive materials and substances that were in Snyder’s apartment were destroyed by bomb squad experts close to the scene of the incident. The volatile items were destroyed in a field on the Student Farm using a process called thermal treatment. Explosive items were also destroyed on the southwest side of campus on another open space of land.

“This was a critical incident that was handled the first night without injury to anyone other than Mr. Snyder,” Carmichael said in an email interview.

Morain said that though the public may be curious to know more details regarding the incident, the University is protecting Snyder’s privacy rights and the integrity of the investigation.

Some residents of Russell Park Apartments were disturbed to learn what Snyder was doing in his apartment.

Carmichael said a meeting was held for all of the residents who were affected by the incident, including inhabitants of The Colleges, Russell Park Apartments and Baggins End Domes. Residents expressed a combination of frustration for the inconvenience of being dislocated from their homes, as well as concerns about the well-being of Snyder.

“Tandem has done an excellent job ensuring displaced residents had lodging and were kept informed as best as possible. [UC Davis] Student Affairs also supported the effort by providing meals at the dining commons,” Carmichael said.

The University has launched a review to recognize how to appropriately control the use of explosive materials on campus, Morain said.

“Our policies are already extensive regarding appropriate use of materials, but cannot eliminate all risk of criminal acts,” she said.

Carmichael said he does not know of any previous incidents where a UC Davis researcher was arrested for an incident involving the possession of explosive materials or substances.

According to the news release, Snyder received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UC Davis in 2004 and a doctorate in chemistry in 2011.

KELLEY DRECHSLER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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