HOUSTON — A 25-year-old man is in custody after he was found with explosive materials near the Dick Dowling Confederate monument in Houston.
Andrew Schneck faces a charge of attempting to maliciously damage property receiving federal financial assistance, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in a US District Court.
It’s a federal case because Hermann Park, where the Dowling statue is located, receives federal funding for its maintenance. Dowling had been hailed as a Confederate war hero in Houston during the Civil War, serving in the Jefferson Davis Guards.
According to the criminal complaint, a Houston park ranger spotted Schneck kneeling in the bushes near the Dowling statue on Saturday.
The ranger saw Schneck holding two small boxes, including “what appeared to be duct tape and wires,” FBI Special Agent Patrick Hutchinson wrote in the complaint.
“While placing the boxes on the ground, Schneck took a clear plastic bottle appearing to be full of a clear liquid from one of the boxes,” the complaint said. “Scheck then proceeded to drink from the bottle, then immediately spit the liquid on the ground … Schneck then proceeded to pour 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 FBI agent wrote.
The ranger also noticed a timer and wires near Schneck, the complaint said.
“When asked by Curtis 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,” Hutchinson wrote.
If convicted, Schneck faces up to 40 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.