HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Authorities are evacuating the area along Albans Road between Hazard Street and Wilton Street near Rice University in southwest Houston after an FBI and ATF raid. During the raid, investigators discovered hazardous materials inside a home.
The FBI and other agencies are working to dispose of the hazardous materials through a series of controlled explosions.
Due to the volatile nature of the hazardous materials, these explosions may create loud noises and smoke with the potential to damage property.
25-year-old Andrew Schneck has been taken into custody for attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance, according to acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
A criminal complaint was filed in Houston federal court on Monday charging Schneck, who made his first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy. He was temporarily ordered into custody upon the government's request pending a detention hearing set for Thursday at 2 p.m.
A City of Houston ranger at Hermann Park observed Schneck kneeling among the bushes in front of the General Dowling Monument where he was allegedly holding two small boxes with various items inside to include what appeared to be duct tape and wires, according to the criminal complaint. After Schneck followed the ranger's command to place the boxes on the ground, he then allegedly took a drink from plastic bottle but immediately spit it on the ground. The ranger then noticed a timer and wires in the box and contacted the Houston Police Department.
The clear liquid and a white powdery substance found in a small, black aluminum tube were tested in the field and determined likely to be nitroglycerin and Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), according to the charges.
HMTD is a high explosive organic compound used as an initiating, or primary explosive while nitroglycerin has been used as an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives. In 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. In its undiluted form, it is one of the world's most powerful explosives.
Law enforcement officers and agents 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 home.
The City of Houston receives federal financial assistance for maintenance of Hermann Park where the General Dowling Monument is located.
If convicted, Schneck faces a minimum of five and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
The City of Houston released the following statement on Monday afternoon:
To ensure the safety of nearby residents and the public, the FBI, HPD, ATF, and City of Houston emergency personnel are evacuating the area of Albans Road between Hazard Street and Wilton Street, as well as an alleyway immediately south between those streets in southwest Houston. In the course of the operations, law enforcement personnel discovered hazardous materials inside a residence.
The FBI and its law enforcement partners are working together to safely and properly dispose of the hazardous materials through a series of controlled detonations.
Due to the volatile nature of the hazardous materials these detonations may create loud noises and smoke with the potential to damage property.