Houston man faces federal charges for trying to blow up Confederate monument

Confederate monument

The Dick Dowling Confederate monument pays tribute to Richard William Dowling, who served in the Jefferson Guards and hailed as a war hero in Houston. (Photo: Houston Parks and Recreation)

A criminal complaint filed in federal court Monday accuses a 25-year-old man of attempting to blow up a Confederate monument in Houston’s Hermann Park last week.

Andrew Schneck faces charges of attempting to maliciously damage property receiving federal financial assistance, the Justice Department announced in a press release. The case is being handled in federal court because the park receives financial assistance from the federal government.

The criminal complaint alleges that a park ranger noticed Schneck Saturday evening kneeling near the Dick Dowling Confederate monument. According to the City of Houston website, Dowling, who served in the Jefferson Davis Guards, “was hailed as a war hero in Houston.”

At the time of the incident, Schneck was holding two small boxes. The ranger observed what appeared to be duct tape, wires and a timer.

As the ranger approached, Schneck placed the boxes on the ground and took a clear plastic bottle containing a liquid out of one of the boxes. Schneck took a drink of the liquid, but immediately spit it out, then poured the contents onto the ground.

The ranger asked Schneck if he wanted to cause harm to the statue, to which he replied yes and added that he did not “like that guy.”

A field test determined the liquid was most likely nitroglycerin, which was described by FBI Special Agent Patrick Hutchinson as “one of the world’s most powerful explosives” in undiluted form. A white powder was also found at the site, which field tests determined was most likely hexamethylene triperoxide diamine. According to Hutchinson, “HMTD is used as an initiating, or primary explosive.”

Furthermore, according to reports from the Houston Chronicle, Larry Satterwhite, an assistant Houston police chief who oversees the Homeland Security Command, said a search of Schneck’s home turned up a “significant amount” of “very hazardous materials.”

However, this isn’t Schneck’s first brush with federal law enforcement. In 2014, he was convicted on another explosives charge and sentenced to serve five years in prison. He was released early last year.

Philip Hilder, an attorney who represented Schneck during the 2014 case and currently represents him, said the situation is “evolving” and the investigation ongoing. Hilder said to comment on the case at this point would be “premature.”

If convicted, Schneck could spend up to 40 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.