First Responder To Fertilizer Plant Explosion Arrested For Pipe Bomb

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday afternoon said it “will not speculate” on whether a pipe bomb allegedly belonging to a West paramedic has any connection with the fatal fertilizer plant fire and explosion that he responded to.

Update May 11, 2013: This gets even weirder Saturday morning as the Dallas News updates their report from Friday.

- West officials for the first time told the state agency that licenses paramedics that Reed was let go two days after the explosion. A reason wasn’t given.

- According to a post this week on Bryce Reed’s Facebook page, his wife left him sometime after the explosion.

- It’s unclear if Reed knew about his apparent departure. The day after officials said he was let go, he gave an update about small fires at the explosion site to displaced West residents at a local hotel.

- Neighbors said the man and his wife and daughter hadn’t been living in their duplex since the blast. One neighbor, who asked that his name be withheld to protect his family’s safety, said Bryce Reed told him his wife had left him. The man said Bryce Reed also told him that the ATF was investigating him for fraud and that his attorneys had advised him to “get the hell out of Dodge.”

- The same neighbor said that Bryce Reed told him that he had a pipe bomb that had belonged to Cyrus Reed, but that he had given it to a friend to store.

- Reed has also made unverifiable claims about his education and career on his online resúmé on LinkedIn. It is unknown when it was last updated, but the bachelor’s and master’s degrees he claims he earned have been disputed by records and authoritative sources. He also claims to have held management positions with three entities that are now defunct.

- The only thing that seemed constant in his life was his career as a paramedic. As late as last week, Reed admitted feeling emotionally unstable.

- Records also show that two days after the explosion, Reed was “let go” at West’s volunteer EMS department, according to records and interviews.

- Back in West, neighbors who exchanged notes Friday said they quickly realized Reed had woven a different story to each of them. He told one that he was a cop and another that he worked for the government.

- Also, according to WFAA-TV (Channel 8), Reed is a contact person for a fundraiser that’s raised $33,177 in T-shirt sales through the website Tee-Spring.com.

Again, there are still no indications reported of a connection between the blast and Reed's arrest.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday afternoon said it “will not speculate” on whether a pipe bomb allegedly belonging to a West paramedic has any connection with the fatal fertilizer plant fire and explosion that he responded to.

Reuters:

U.S. prosecutors charged Bryce Reed, 31, one of the first to respond to a deadly explosion last month in the Texas town of West, with unlawful possession of pipe bomb components, but authorities said no evidence linked the charge to the fertilizer plant disaster.

Reed appeared at federal court in Waco, Texas, on Friday, where he faced one count of unlawfully possessing an unregistered destructive device. He did not enter a plea, said Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in the Western District of Texas.
...
Reed, who was arrested Thursday, is being held without bail and is due in court on May 15, according to court papers.

Federal prosecutors said in court papers they had responded to a home in Abbott, Texas, where they found a section of pipe 3-1/2 inches long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter, end caps, fuses and explosive powder. The resident of that home, whom they did not identify, told police the components came from Reed.
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The state fire marshal's office has said that ammonium nitrate stored at the plant detonated in the explosion but it has not been able to pin down the cause of the fire and blast.

State officials on Friday ordered the Texas Rangers to join McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara in a criminal investigation into the blast.

The move to conduct a criminal investigation comes after weeks of largely treating the blast as an industrial accident.

Divergent portraits of Bryce Reed emerge as he remains in federal custody. The Dallas News reports:

After answering the door at his Rockwall home Friday, Gary Nelson said he couldn’t believe the charges against his stepson. He said there is “not a chance” that Reed was involved in the deadly explosion.

“He's been tore up about it,” Nelson said, adding that the family is “100 percent behind him.”

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.

“Instead of grieving my brother's death, we're dealing with all of this,” said Sarah Reed, who is not related to Bryce Reed.

Bryce Reed’s wife, Brittany Reed, declined to comment when reached by phone early Friday.

“I can’t. No comment, no comment, no comment right now,” she said before hanging up the phone.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw and McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara released a joint statement Friday morning about the criminal investigation. Neither mentioned Reed’s arrest.

“The citizens of McLennan County and Texas must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled – they deserve nothing less,” McNamara said.

Bryce Reed’s neighbors on Main Street north of downtown West on Friday said that ATF agents were at the man’s home for several hours late Thursday afternoon. The neighbors declined to give their names but said Bryce Reed had a young daughter and that he hadn’t been staying at the home since the explosion.

At last month’s public memorial for the 12 people killed responding to the fire, Reed gave the eulogy for Cyrus Reed, who was a volunteer firefighter in nearby Abbott. The two men weren’t related, though they shared the same last name and Bryce Reed often referred to Cyrus Reed as his brother.

But Sarah Reed, who is Cyrus Reed’s biological sister, said her family had been “fooled by Bryce Reed.” She said that her family let Bryce Reed eulogize their relative because he led them to believe that he and Cyrus Reed were very close.

Sarah Reed said she and her family have gone through Cyrus Reed's computer and cellphone records and have found that the two first responders might not have been as close as the suspect led the public to believe, she said.

“He convinced us that he and Cyrus were very close, like brothers," she said. "But I want people to know they are not brothers, and he is not part of our family."

Bryce Reed’s Facebook page indicates that some people may have accused him of profiting off of donations. He described this week as a trying one, posting on Monday that he is "appalled at how people are tearing me apart."

“I have not received ONE CENT for ANYTHING that I did to help with this situation,” Bryce Reed wrote on Tuesday. “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.”

Before his arrest, Bryce Reed had spoken to the media -- including The Dallas Morning News and the Los Angeles Times -- about his experience responding to the explosion. The Dallas Morning News said that it "does not pay interview subjects and did not pay Reed."

More as this story develops...

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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