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Man gets more than 6 years in prison for trying to blow up Confederate statue

The Dick Dowling Confederate monument in Houston. (http://www.houstontx.gov)

HOUSTON, Texas — A 26-year-old man was sentenced to six and a half years in prison after he tried to blow up the Dick Dowling Confederate monument in Houston.

Andrew Schneck had been charged with attempting to maliciously damage property receiving federal financial assistance, according to federal court documents. He pleaded guilty in March.

The case went to federal court because Hermann Park, where the Dowling statue is at, receives federal funding for its maintenance. During the Civil War, Dowling had been hailed as a Confederate war hero in Houston, serving in the Jefferson Davis Guards.

Schneck’s sentencing comes one year after a Houston park ranger spotted him kneeling in the bushes near the Dowling statue on August 19, 2017. The ranger saw Schneck holding two small boxes containing “what appeared to be duct tape and wires,” according to a criminal complaint.

While Schneck was placing the boxes on the ground, the complaint said, he “took a clear plastic bottle appearing to be full of a clear liquid from one of the boxes” and then “proceeded to drink from the bottle, then immediately spit the liquid on the ground next him.” Schneck then poured the contents of the bottle on the ground next to him.

An analysis of the liquid later revealed it was “most likely nitroglycerin,” which is “one of the world’s most powerful explosives” when undiluted, the complaint read.

The ranger also noticed a timer and wires near Schneck, the complaint said.

“When asked … if he wanted to harm the statue, Schneck responded that he did, and that he (Schneck) did not ‘like that guy,'” the complaint said.

In addition to the suspected nitroglycerin, authorities also found a white powder that was “most likely HMTD,” or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine. “HMTD is used as an initiating, or primary explosive,” the complaint said.

Schneck’s attempt to blow up the statue took place one week after the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left Heather Heyer dead.