Two UC-Santa Cruz Researchers Victims of Firebombing

Authorities believe scientists were targeted because of their lab work involving animals.

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Two UC-Santa Cruz researchers were victims of separate firebombings this past weekend, allegedly targeted by animal rights activists, the Daily Bruin reports. Shortly before 6 a.m. on Saturday, the home of a molecular biologist was hit by a firebomb, which damaged the front porch and door and filled the house with smoke. The scientist and his family, which includes two small children, escaped by ladder from the second floor. One family member was briefly hospitalized. In another incident that occurred around the same time, a second researcher's car was firebombed and destroyed. The car was parked outside the scientist's house on campus.

The two attacks happened a day after a threatening flier was posted at a Santa Cruz coffee shop, the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports. The flier listed the names of 13 university employees who work with animals—along with their addresses and other personal information—and read: "Animal abusers everywhere beware; we know where you live; we know where you work; we will never back down until you end your abuse." The employee whose house was attacked was on the list; the one whose car was hit was not.

Saturday's incidents are not the first that have targeted University of California scientists who work with animals. A number of researchers at UCLA have been attacked and/or harassed since 2006, leading to a lawsuit and a restraining order, and in late February, a family member of a UC-Santa Cruz scientist was assaulted. Authorities have pointed to animal rights extremists for all the acts.

The university is calling the most recent attacks "criminal acts of antiscience violence," and Santa Cruz police are calling the house fire an act of domestic terrorism and are treating it as an attempted homicide, according to the Chronicle.