The front page of the Lansing State Journal Feb. 29, 1992. A firebomb attack the day before caused significant damage and destroyed decades of animal research. (Photo: Courtesy / Lansing State Journal Archives)
In the early morning hours of Feb. 28, 1992, Rodney Coronado crept onto Michigan State University’s campus. He wiggled his way through a first-floor window of Anthony Hall before kicking down the door to the office of Richard Aulerich. The MSU researcher spent decades studying nutrition and the decline of the natural mink population. Coronado believed Aulerich’s research was funded by the commercial fur industry.
Inside Aulerich’s office, Coronado built a pyre using wooden desk drawers, research papers and a makeshift firebomb. He recorded his actions on video, donning a mask to protect his identity.
Coronado set the timer on his makeshift bomb before walking out. He had confidence in his work; he’d perfected the technique while carrying out half a dozen prior attacks against other universities and fur farms on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front.
“I won’t sugar coat it; we were about psychological warfare,” Coronado, who was in his mid-20s at the time, said. “We wanted researchers like Aulerich never to know when they came to work and opened their office door whether there had been an attack. We wanted them to live in fear.”
Around 5:30 a.m., the firebomb detonated, and flames overtook Aulerich’s office, spreading to three nearby offices. Two students who were inside the building at the time fled unharmed but alerted officials to the fire. Decades of research by Aulerich and others turned to ash as firefighters made their way to the building.
“If it hadn’t been discovered, the fire would have spread and easily could have burned the whole building down,” said Fred Poston, who was the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the time.
Coronado denied for years he’d ever been to East Lansing, let alone on MSU’s campus or inside Anthony Hall. When he pleaded guilty in 1995, Coronado maintained he wasn’t the person who carried out the attack.
Twenty-five years later, Coronado admits he was solely responsible. He said he has no reason to lie anymore.
For the full article, see RJ Woolcot, “Ecoterrorist admits firebombing MSU 25 years ago“, Lansing State Journal, February 23, 2017.