A 25-year-old Houston man is in federal custody on charges he planned to blow up a Confederate statue in Hermann Park.
Andrew Schneck is charged with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said.
A Houston park ranger saw Schneck kneeling among the bushes in front of the General Dowling Monument, according to investigators. They say he was holding two small boxes that contained a timer, duct tape, wires and other items.
The ranger said Schneck took a drink from a plastic bottle but immediately spit it out. The clear liquid was field tested as was a white powdery substance found in a small, black aluminum tube which revealed they were most likely nitroglycerin and Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), respectively, according to the charges. HMTD is a high explosive organic compound used as an initiating, or primary explosive. Nitroglycerin has been used as an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives. ln its pure form, nitroglycerin is a contact explosive, with physical shock causing it to explode, which degrades over time to even more unstable forms. Nitroglycerin is highly dangerous to transport or use. ln its undiluted form, it is one of the world's most powerful explosives.
Authorities believe the items in Schneck’s possession on Aug. 19 were capable to produce a viable explosive device, according to the charges.
The complaint further alleges that Schneck conducts “chemistry experiments” at his Houston residence.
If convicted, Schneck faces a minimum of five and up to 40 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
The FBI and HPD are conducting the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Mark McIntyre and Ted Imperato are prosecuting the case.