EAST LANSING, Mich. – A man who denied firebombing an animal researcher’s laboratory at Michigan State University in 1992 even as he pleaded guilty now admits he carried out the attack and participated in others across the country, including one at Washington State University.
Rodney Coronado told the Lansing State Journal he was a member of the Animal Liberation Front that targeted researchers and others they believed were mistreating animals.
“In my heart, I was deeply troubled,” said Coronado, who said he participated in a half-dozen attacks, including at Oregon State University, WSU and private fur farms in the early 1990s. The vandalism at a WSU animal lab in Pullman occurred in August 1991. “I wanted to do everything I could to try to stop it,” he said.
The fire Coronado said he set by himself at MSU caused more than $1 million in damage, according to the newspaper’s archives, and destroyed 32 years of Richard Aulerich’s research on the natural mink population and a decade of work by researcher Karen Chou. Neither would discuss the fire.
Coronado, now 50, was arrested in 1994. Facing up to 50 years, he agreed to plead guilty in Michigan in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges in other states. He was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution, though court records indicate he’s paid a tiny fraction of that amount.
Coronado said the attacks were intended to cause those conducting animal research to “live in fear.”
“I won’t sugarcoat it; we were about psychological warfare,” he said.
Coronado now heads a nonprofit called the Great Lakes Wolf Patrol. He said he does not regret what he did in the early 1990s, but recognizes efforts to change attitudes are “damaged when you push someone against a wall and antagonize with direct action.”
Still, Coronado said he’d release every mink from its cage if he knew he could get away with it.
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