Houston Man Charged After Trying to Plant Bomb on Confederate Statue
The statue of Confederate officer Richard Dowling stands at the Cambridge Street entrance of Hermann Park, in Houston on Aug. 18, 2017. Richard William 'Dick' Dowling was the victorious commander at the Second Battle of Sabine Pass in the American Civil War.George Wong / Zuma Press
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A Texas man has been arrested and charged after allegedly trying to plant a bomb on a Confederate statue at a Houston park, authorities said Monday.
Andrew Cecil Schneck, 25, was charged with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance, federal prosecutors announced.
A park ranger doing a routine patrol of the area around Hermann Park on Saturday caught Schneck kneeling in the bushes near the statue of Richard Dowling, a commander in the Confederate army.
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The ranger "observed Schneck to be holding two small boxes with various items inside," including "what appeared to be duct tape and wires," a criminal complaint says. Schneck, who majored in chemistry at Austin College, was also found with a bottle containing liquid made up of compounds used as explosives.
When asked by the ranger whether he wanted to harm the Dowling statue, Schneck replied that he did not "like that guy," according to the criminal complaint.
Schneck's lawyer, Philip Hilder, declined to comment on Monday.
Schneck was charged in 2014 with improperly storing explosive material. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor federal charge and was sentenced to five years probation and $159,000 in restitution. Most of the documents in that case were sealed.
His probation, which barred him for having contact with explosives, was ended early last year.
At a news conference Monday, officials praised the park ranger, Tamara Curtis, for her quick thinking.
"Her initial response could have saved lives," said Daron Ogletree, a special agent with the FBI office in Houston.
The arrest comes amid a raging national debate over the removal of Confederate monuments from public places following the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month.
Daniel Arkin is a reporter for NBC News.
Tracy Connor is a senior writer for NBC News. She started this role in December, 2012. Connor is responsible for reporting and writing breaking news, features and enterprise stories for NBCNews.com. Connor joined NBC News from the New York Daily News, where she was a senior writer covering a broad range of news and supervising the health and immigration beats. Prior to that she was an assistant city editor who oversaw breaking news and the courts and entertainment beats.
Earlier, Connor was a staff writer at the New York Post, United Press International and Brooklyn Paper Publications.
Connor has won numerous awards from journalism organizations including the Deadline Club and the New York Press Club.