By SCOTT SONNER RENO ,
Animal rights activists have claimed responsibility for a fire that gutted
the Reno business office of a company that ships monkeys from China for
scientific research in the United States and elsewhere.
Reno police and fire officials began investigating the arson claim by the
Animal Liberation Front after The Associated Press sought comment about
an e-mail the group circulated to media outlets and posted on a Web site.
"At this point we are looking at it as a lead,"
Reno police spokesman
Steve Frady said Wednesday. "There is evidence of arson. At this point
there is no physical evidence to link this with the group claiming responsibility,"
No one was injured in the fire that broke out about 4 a.m. on May 18 and
caused an estimated $300,000 damage to offices of Scientific Resources International
Inc. just southwest of downtown Reno , Frady said.
The North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office, which posts messages
from groups taking credit for animal rights violence, said on its Web site
Tuesday that it received an "anonymous communique" last week indicating
ALF was claiming responsibility for the fire.
“In the early morning hours of May 18th, four incendiary devices were
planted at Scientific Resources International, a supplier of non-humyn (sic)
primates for use in vivisection labs all over northern Nevada ," the
message read. "The concept of animals existing as `resources' is utterly
despicable, and we vow to do all in our power to run businesses like these
into the ground."
Vivisection labs are used by scientists who experiment with animals, such
as for medical research.
Frady said the building is listed as a business office and didn't believe
any animals had been housed there. A man who answered the telephone listing
for the office said he was the manager but declined to give his name. He
said the building had been destroyed and would be unable to conduct business
until it was rebuilt.
The one-story home that housed the offices in a largely residential district
still smelled of smoke Wednesday. A sign identified it only as "SRI
Inc." The most badly charred parts of the building were by two front
doors on a large covered porch and in the rear of the building. Several
holes have been boarded up.
"We are hoping the public has information that will help us to thoroughly
investigate this case and determine who was responsible for setting this
fire," Frady said. He said 33 firefighters were called to battle the
Frady said he wasn't aware of any other acts of violence involving ALF in
the Reno-Sparks area in recent years.
In 2007, a Canadian animal rights activist was sentenced to more than three
years in prison for helping a cell of the ALF set fire to federal wild horse
corrals at Litchfield , Calif. , about 90 miles northwest of Reno . Darren
Todd Thurston, 37, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson in the 2001
fire at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management corrals.