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Man who tried to bomb Confederate statue in Hermann park faces sentencing

August 17, 2018

A Houston man who tried to bomb a statue of a confederate commander in Hermann Park last summer is set to be sentenced Friday in a Houston federal court.

The attempted bombing happened amid a wave of protests around the country over civic monuments that venerate people touted as heroes of the South during the Civil War.

Andrew C.E. Schneck, who had a prior arrest for amassing explosives at his parents’ upscale home in Southhampton Place, near the Museum District, has spent the past year at a federal facility in downtown Houston. He admitted to fashioning bomb making materials to get rid of the statue.

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The 26-year-old pleaded guilty in March before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. to a willful attempt to maliciously damage or destroy property in violation of federal law. At the time, a federal prosecutor dismissed a sentence enhancement related to the harm an explosion could have caused, which could have allowed for a longer prison sentence.

Schneck had a history of concocting homemade explosives. At sentencing, judge asked him why he did it this time.

“The intent was to damage the statue significantly,” he said.

He faces five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 at his sentencing.

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Schneck’s attorney Philip Hilder said his family is very supportive, but acknowledged this has been a difficult time.

Schneck spent several months of his detention at an intensive inpatient program. He told the judge during sentencing that he was taking mood stabilizing medication.

He graduated with a degree in chemistry from Austin College in Sherman and had a penchant for experiments, according to a source familiar with the case.

In 2014, he was convicted of storing explosives for which he earned five years of probation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Feazel said at his plea hearing that on Aug. 19, 2017, a park ranger saw Schneck kneeling with two small boxes in the bushes near the base of a statue of Lt. Richard Dowling. The ranger told Schneck to put the boxes on the ground.

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The boxes contained a homemade detonator, a timer, wiring, a battery, a bottle of nitroglycerin and an explosive organic compound known as HMTD, hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, officials said.

Upon being discovered, Schneck reportedly tried to drink some of the liquid explosives but then spit out the liquid and poured the contents of the bottle onto the ground, Feazel said.

The white marble statue of Dowling, an Irish immigrant who lived in Houston and fought for the Confederacy, was erected in 1905 to honor the Confederate victory he led at Sabine Pass. A street named for Dowling was changed last year to Emancipation Avenue.

gabrielle.banks@chron.com

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