WOODLAND — Some of the explosives-making materials removed from a UC Davis researcher’s apartment last week came from a university lab, and David Scott Snyder may have had help in disposing of the resulting waste, a Yolo County prosecutor disclosed Thursday.
The revelations came shortly after Snyder pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges stemming from the alleged discovery of various chemicals, substances and firearms inside his Russell Park residence.
Also Thursday, bomb technicians detonated additional materials seized during an inspection of Snyder’s lab in UCD’s Chemistry Annex building. UCD Police Chief Matt Carmichael said for precautionary reasons, they were transported to a remote field south of Interstate 80 and destroyed with two explosions.
While Carmichael would not say whether the latest find amounted to criminal conduct, “there’s always the potential for additional charges,” he said.
Snyder, 32, walked into Yolo Superior Court Commissioner Janene Beronio’s courtroom Thursday with his left hand heavily bandaged, the result of injuries he incurred in a blast inside his apartment during the early hours of Jan. 17.
“That is my given name,” Snyder, wearing a blue-and-white striped jail uniform, told Beronio as she read the name on the criminal complaint. It charges the junior researcher with four counts of reckless disposal of hazardous waste, three counts of possession of a destructive device or explosive, one count of possession of materials with intent to made a destructive device and two counts of possessing a firearm on university grounds.
Snyder has retained high-profile defense attorney Linda Parisi, who was represented in court Thursday by her daughter, lawyer Jessica Graves.
Graves told Beronio her office has filed a motion to reduce Snyder’s $2 million bail and requested a hearing on the matter, which was scheduled for Feb. 8 before Judge David Reed.
“This was an unfortunate incident where Dr. Snyder was injured. He had no intention of making a bomb, and we look forward to an opportunity to help him clear his name,” Graves later told reporters outside the courthouse. She declined to answer questions about the case.
But according to Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral, there were “finished components of bombs,” as well as detonation devices, seized during a 20-hour police operation on Jan. 17 during which 40 apartments and a day-care center were evacuated. Some of the materials, he added, had been taken from chemistry labs on the UCD campus.
While it’s unclear whether university officials had knowledge of the removed chemicals, “certainly people on campus were aware of it,” Cabral said. He also said Snyder “possibly” had help dumping hazardous waste in Dumpsters at Russell Park and two other undisclosed apartment complexes in the Davis city limits, but he declined to identify the person or say whether more arrests were planned.
Cabral also said his office would oppose any bid for a bail reduction in the case.
“We believe the defendant’s a flight risk as well as a danger to the community,” Cabral said after the brief arraignment hearing.
At the time of the incident, Snyder had plans to permanently leave California for Texas, where he has family, Cabral said. His departure plan preceded the apartment explosion and was not related to the resulting criminal investigation, he added.
Carmichael, the UCD police chief, has said there’s no evidence that Snyder was plotting any sort of attack on campus or elsewhere in the community. He also said the guns in the apartment were not assault-type weapons.
Meanwhile, UCD officials announced they have taken several steps to improve safety and communication on campus as a result of the Snyder case.
“The safety of the entire university community — students, staff, faculty and visitors — is our top priority,” Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, said in statement released Thursday afternoon. “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.”
Hexter said some of the interim measures UCD administrators have taken include:
* Asking the UCD Police Department to evaluate how to strengthen the university’s communication with members of the campus community about the long-standing, campuswide ban on firearms, with particular focus on possession of firearms in student housing.
* Initiating a focused administrative review of current practices within the chemistry department regulating the storage, security and disposal of hazardous materials. The theft of university property for personal use is against university policy and is a crime, Hexter said.
* Conducting meetings with residents and neighbors of the Russell Park housing complex as well as students, faculty and staff in the chemistry department.
— Reach Lauren Keene at email@example.com or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene