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(UWIRE) -- Two University of California, Santa Cruz faculty members and their families were targeted in what local authorities are calling attacks by animal liberationists.
A pedestrian looks at the burned wreckage of a car that was destroyed by a firebomb on Saturday.
The first incident occurred off-campus on Saturday morning when a faculty member and his two small children were forced to escape from their smoke-filled home, with one family member sustaining injuries and a brief hospitalization, according to a statement released by the UCSC chancellor George Blumenthal.
The second incident occurred shortly afterward when the vehicle of another researcher parked on campus was also firebombed and destroyed.
According to Chancellor George Blumenthal, both incidents are being investigated by the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Santa Cruz police, UCSC police and the state fire marshal's office.
"The campus is taking this extremely seriously and is working closely with law enforcement agencies and our own campus resources to identify and apprehend the perpetrators as well as taking major proactive steps to support researchers in the face of violence and intimidation," said Chancellor Blumenthal in the administrative message released yesterday.
These attacks in Santa Cruz, according to a press release from the North American Animal Liberation, occurred one day after receiving mass e-mails by Stop Animal Exploitation Now in addition to threatening fliers found at a local coffeehouse days before.
On Tuesday, the FBI upped a reward for those responsible for the crimes to $50,000, The Mercury News reported. It's the largest reward for a crime in the city's history.
The Santa Cruz police department is looking at several animal liberation groups, but does not have any suspects for Saturday's bombings.
Phil Hampton, a spokesman for UCLA, said he could not comment on the incidents that occurred in Santa Cruz, but said people at the university are naturally concerned for those who had to undergo such harassment.
There have been several incidences in the past three years that animal liberation groups claimed responsibility for on the UCLA campus, which included firebombs being placed in the homes of researchers, causing some degree of damage, Hampton said.
Another instance included turning on a garden hose inside of a researcher's home, again causing structural damage, he added, as well as threatening phone calls and e-mails directed at faculty members which occur frequently.
"Our position is that threats and violence to make a political point are not acceptable and strongly condemned," Hampton said.
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