A Houston man targeted a Confederate statue for removal and granted himself with the authority to act on it. The man was caught trying to execute the plan – allegedly when he attempted to plant explosives on the statue in a public park.
On Monday, authorities in Houston said Andrew Schneck, 25, was attempting to destroy a statue of Richard W. “Dick” Dowling, a lieutenant in the Confederate army, in Hermann Park. A Houston park ranger confronted Schneck when he was kneeling in the bushes by the 112-year-old statue, suspicious of the two boxes he was carrying.
According to prosecutors, the two boxes had duct tape and wires and contained a bottle and a small aluminum tube containing explosive materials, tests later revealed. Authorities allege that Schneck had what is likely nitroglycerin in the bottle, an active ingredient in explosives. A white powder in the tube was found to be Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, used as a primary explosive.
According to reports, Schneck tried to drink from the bottle when the ranger questioned him. He then spat the nitroglycerin out and poured it onto the ground.
“When asked by (the park ranger) if he wanted to harm the statue, Schneck responded that he did and that he did not ‘like that guy,'” according to the criminal complaint.
The Houston police bomb squad found a timer with wires connected to a homemade detonator, a battery, and chemicals in Schneck’s possession. The criminal complaint says the items “were capable to [sic] produce a viable explosive device.”
Schneck was charged with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance.
Schneck later admitted to having other chemicals in his Houston home, prompting the evacuation of people that live in the houses near his on Monday. According to reports, Schneck lives with his mother and she, too, had to be evacuated as authorities began the process of eliminating the materials found the home.
According to Chron, bomb squad experts “detonated a cache of high-powered explosives” they found on the Schneck property on Monday afternoon.
The Washington Examiner reports that Schneck has a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Schneck’s mother told authorities that her son conducts “his chemistry experiments” on one of her properties, according to the criminal complaint.
Schneck was sentenced to five years’ probation in 2014 on charges of improperly storing explosive materials. Schneck’s attorneys successfully petitioned a judge for early termination of his sentence. Philip Hilder, Schneck’s attorney, said Schneck “is not a risk to public safety” and that “his focus is no longer concentrated on high-risk activities.”
Andrew Schneck pic.twitter.com/JvrDDsj4Uz
— Don (@DonPHooper) August 21, 2017
Schneck was in court on Monday and remains in federal custody until at least Thursday when he has a detention hearing.
The statue of Dowling commemorates the Ireland-born Houston saloon owner’s defeat of a Union invasion force at the Battle of Sabine Pass in 1863. Dowling was labeled a hero in Houston.
— Constitutional Drunk (@USSANews) August 21, 2017
In the video below, officials discuss the investigation:
Scenes from the incident can be seen in the local news coverage:
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