Earlier today it was revealed that a West, TX paramedic named Bryce Reed had been arrested on charges of possessing a destructive device, and also that a criminal investigation has been officially launched into the April 17th fertilizer plant explosion that claimed the lives of 15 people.
Fox News Reports:
A Texas emergency medical services technician was arrested and charged Friday with possession of a destructive device.
Reed is part of West’s Emergency Medical Services and was one of the incident commanders during the deadly April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.
Texas law enforcement officials are now launching a criminal investigation into the explosion. Investigators have largely treated the West Fertilizer Co. blast that killed 14 as an industrial accident.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a Friday statement that the agency has instructed the Texas Rangers and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department to launch a criminal probe.
DPS Director Steven McCraw says in a statement he wants to ensure “no stone goes unturned” in the investigation.
There is no known connection between Reed and the explosion at this time.
Details are very limited as of now but we do know that he has not officially been named a suspect in the investigation. Here are some of the things we know about Bryce Reed so far.
The Dallas Morning News Reports:
Bryce Reed, who told The Dallas Morning News that he assumed radio command of the April 17 incident after the explosion killed his superiors and colleagues, was accused Friday of giving an “assortment of bomb making components” to an unnamed person in nearby Abbott on April 26, nine days after the explosion.
Hours after his arrest, the Texas Rangers and McLennan County Sheriff’s office launched a criminal investigation into the plant explosion but did not say what role, if any, the federal charges against Reed played in their decision.
So we know that he tried to hide his bomb making materials with an associate. Whether that has anything to do with the West, Texas explosion or not is in doubt. But it would appear that he was trying to hide evidence that could potentially incriminate him.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Reed’s LinkedIn profile lists spending time at the U.S. Biological and Chemical Weapon Depot in Ft McClellan, Ala. Reed also lists one year from 2010-2011 as a technician/regional safety officer for Allied International Emergency LLC., where he said response teams dealt with “Weapons of Mass Destruction Response, Nuclear Event Management, Chemical or Biological Weapons Containment, Large Scale Environmental Loss Mitigation, to DOT/EPA small scale spill cleanup.”
We also know that he has been accused of trying to profit from the explosion and that he may have not been forthright about his relationship to one of the fallen heroes.
On the day after the plant explosion, Reed told the Los Angeles Times that when he and his friend Cyrus Reed (no relation) arrived at the plant, Bryce Reed was made incident commander, and as such stayed away from the all-consuming fire. Cyrus Reed was closer to the blaze, which turned into an explosion and claimed his life.
“He was my best friend. He got me help through the crisis in my life. He’s my brother,” Reed said.
But Sarah Reed, Cyrus Reed’s sister, told a different tale. She said that her family had been “fooled by Bryce Reed.” After Cyrus Reed’s death, Sarah Reed said she and her family went through her brother’s computer and cellphone records, and found little evidence to suggest that Bryce Reed and Cyrus Reed were close at all.
“He convinced us that he and Cyrus were very close, like brothers. But I want people to know they are not brothers, and he is not part of our family.”
On his Facebook page, some have accused Bryce Reed of profiting off of donations in the wake of the fertilizer plant explosion. Reed defended himself, saying, “I have not received ONE CENT for ANYTHING that I did to help with this situation. I have not been paid by the media, by press, I made nothing for delivering my brothers eulogy, and made NOTHING off of this tragedy. I was a shoulder to cry on, I found a GREAT new family, and was blessed to get to tell them about their son.”
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Sarah Reed also suspected Bryce Reed (no relation) of stealing from her deceased brother:
But the sister of a firefighter Reed eulogized at a public memorial last month said she had to ask police to guard her deceased brother’s apartment because she feared Reed had been stealing from it since the blast.
In addition, we know that the explosive device was more than likely a pipe bomb. The Dallas Morning News also reports, “Authorities found a 3.5-inch long galvanized metal pipe with a 1.5-inch diameter that had galvanized end caps. There was also a lighter and several pounds of chemical powders in individual bags, special ATF agent Douglas J. Kunze wrote in his affidavit. A U.S. Justice Department press release said Reed gave the component to the Abbott resident on April 26.”
It has also been stated that Bryce Reed’s own home was destroyed by the blast. I am not sure that a man who builds pipe bombs would have accounted for that possibility, if it ends up that he had anything to do with this explosion. A question that should be asked, however, is… Why would anyone blow up a fertilizer plant if they knew they would likely be directly involved as a first-responder and thus put their own life into jeopardy?
The facts are sketchy but slowly emerging. Time will tell if this was a criminal act or a simple industrial accident.
We do know that it is officially being investigated as such, but we do not know if Bryce Reed is part of that investigation.