UC Davis researcher accused of making explosives

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UC Davis police arrested chemistry researcher David Snyder on suspicion of possessing explosive materials that ignited an explosion at a campus apartment on Jan. 17.

The blast occurred at the Russell Park Apartments Thursday morning at 1 a.m., forcing 75 residents to evacuate the housing and its surrounding buildings. Following the explosion, campus police searched Snyder’s apartment and found explosive materials along with firearms.

UC Davis spokesperson Claudia Morain said the explosion was characterized as small and that Snyder was the only one who sustained an arm injury from the blast.

According to a statement from UC Davis, police also found hazardous chemicals disposed of in an open area east of the campus.
Snyder is now facing 10 felony counts for possessing materials with the intent to make a destructive device, an explosive and firearms on a university campus.

Snyder, who earned his doctorate in chemistry from UC Davis in 2011, was working as a junior specialist at the campus and is now on investigatory leave, according to the statement.

Hamza Ahsan, a junior at UC Davis, said the explosion caused a slowdown in the surrounding area and took the campus by surprise.
“A lot of people thought it was a meth lab, and that was surprising,” he said. “It caught everyone off-guard because it was explosives and not someone cooking drugs.”

According to Morain, students have already been allowed to return to their homes, and the campus police have safely destroyed any materials that were of concern from Snyder’s apartment and lab.

The statement said that the campus will launch an investigation into strengthening communication surrounding the prohibition of firearms on campus and will also start a review of chemistry department regulations regarding the security and disposal of hazardous materials.

“While the police investigation is ongoing, if it becomes apparent that there is more that should be done to help ensure safety on our campus, we are committed to taking all necessary and appropriate steps,” said Ralph Hexter, UC Davis provost and executive vice chancellor, in the statement.

Snyder is being held at the Yolo County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail. A hearing for a motion to reduce bail is set for Feb. 8, according to the campus statement.

Alyssa Neumann covers city government. Contact her at [email protected].