(WACO, Texas) — A 31-year old EMT worker who was one of the first at the scene of last month’s fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people, was arrested Friday and charged with possession of a destructive device.
Authorities have stated that they will not speculate whether the suspect, Bryce Reed had any connection to the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, deputies from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint in Abbott, Texas on May 7.When the deputies arrived at the residence, they discovered “an assortment of bomb making components.”
An official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said in an affidavit that officials found a metal pipe, canisters of fuses, a lighter, a digital scale, a plastic spoon, coils of metal and several pounds of chemicals at the residence and determined that they belonged to Reed.
The complaint that sent them to the house alleges that Reed had given the bomb making components to the resident of the home on April 26, a little more than a week after the explosion in West.
The charge of possession of a destructive device is a somewhat broad one, and the device or devices in question could range from a grenade to a bomb or to even something that can be converted to expel a projectile.
Reed was instrumental in the response to the explosion. He had been appointed incident commander, which meant he was basically in charge of a very chaotic scene. Reed pulled people from their homes and attended memorial services of many of those who died in the blast – including some of his friends.
The news of his arrest has been somewhat of a shock to many residents.
“I would hate to think that anybody in West would do that,” said Gina Boudreaux, a resident of West who told ABC News that she doesn’t like where this is going.
“Even if they don’t live here, personally, the probably have family somewhere in the area that it would have affected,” Boudreaux continued. Her house was heavily damaged in the explosion and she is attempting to make repairs herself because she was uninsured.
According to court documents, Reed admitted to possessing the materials.
He has not been charged with any crimes in connection to the explosion in West.
His next court appearance will be on Wednesday. Reed faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted.
The charges against Reed came shortly ahead of an announcement from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which said Friday morning that it would use a criminal investigation to ensure that the explosion had been “looked at from every angle,” according to a statement from TDP director Steven McCraw.
“This disaster has severely impacted the community of West, and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered,” McCraw said, according to ABC News affiliate WFAA.
McCraw said that the department would not answer any questions or provide any other details about the investigation at this time.
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