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Old 05-11-2013, 11:50 AM   #1
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Default One of the First Responders to the West Fertilizer Blast Has Been Arrested

We're obviously holding out hope that he's a closet Muslim, so that several SF members' lives and world views don't come crumbling to tiny little pieces...

Some confusing and perhaps troubling news is currently coming out of West, Texas, where police have arrested a 31-year-old paramedic said to have have been among the first to respond to last month's massive explosion at a fertilizer plant that killed 15, injured about 200 others and destroyed much of the town.

The Dallas Morning News reports that 31-year-old Bryce Reed was arrested at around 2 a.m. for "possessing a destructive device," later described as a pipe bomb by an unnamed police source who spoke with a Houston radio station. Reed was booked into the local county jail, but has since been taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.

Authorities aren't saying whether the arrest is connected to the explosion, but they're not saying that it's not, either, something that has everyone on edge, unfairly or not. Making things that much more troubling is the fact that the Texas Rangers and the local sheriff's office launched a criminal investigation into the plant explosion Friday morning, only hours after Reed was arrested. Here's the Morning News with more on the official silence on the arrest:

The State Fire Marshal’s office has not determined – or ruled out – whether the fire was a criminal act or accidental. The agency also has not determined the cause of the fire that preceded the deadly explosion, believed to be fueled largely by ammonium nitrate kept at the plant. Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the fire agency, said Friday she could not comment on Reed’s arrest.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw and McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara released a joint statement Friday morning about their 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.
In the days after the April blast, Reed spoke to a number of media outlets about the explosion and his role in the response. The day after the disaster, he was featured prominently in this Los Angeles Times story, in which he described his role as incident commander in the response effort. At last month's public memorial for a dozen of those killed by the blast, Reed "gave a heartfelt and often times humorous eulogy for his close friend," in the words of the Morning News.

According to News 92 FM in Houston, Reed is said to have asked an acquaintance to store a box for him sometime after the explosion. That person later found what appeared to be a pipe bomb in the container, and then contacted police.

While the state fire marshal hasn't determined the cause of the blaze that proceeded the blast yet, earlier this week the department announced it had ruled out four potential causes: weather, natural causes, anhydrous ammonium, and ammonium nitrate in a rail car.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/05/10/bryce_reed_west_texas_paramedic_arrested_for_posse ssing_a_destructive_device.html
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Old 05-11-2013, 10:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: One of the First Responders to the West Fertilizer Blast Has Been Arrested

Texas man held on pipe bomb charge denies role in fertilizer blast

3:46 p.m. CDT, May 11, 2013

A paramedic accused of possessing pipe bomb components will plead not guilty to that charge and denies any involvement in causing the deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that he was among the first to respond to, his lawyer said on Saturday.

Bryce Reed, 31, appeared in federal court in Waco, Texas, on Friday to face one count of unlawfully possessing an unregistered destructive device.

Authorities, who separately announced on Friday a criminal probe into the blast, said no evidence linked Reed's arrest to the April 17 fertilizer plant disaster that killed 14 people and injured about 200 in the town of West - a point Reed's attorney echoed in his first comments about the charge.

"Let me be very clear, Mr. Reed had no involvement whatsoever in the explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant," his attorney, Jonathan Sibley, said in a statement.

"Mr. Reed was one of the first responders and lost friends, family, and neighbors in that disaster," Sibley said. "Mr. Reed is heartbroken for the friends he lost and remains resolute in his desire to assist in the rebuilding of his community."

Reed was a volunteer emergency medical technician who became one of the better-known faces of the tiny Texas town in the aftermath of the blast. Last month he told Reuters that he helped people evacuate the area when a fire broke out at the plant and went on to assist at the disaster scene after the explosion until he learned a close friend was among the dead.

Federal prosecutors said in court papers on Friday that authorities had found a section of pipe 3-1/2 inches long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter, end caps, fuses and explosive powder this month at a home in Abbott, Texas, a town near West.

The resident of that home, whom they did not identify, told police the components came from Reed, who was arrested on Thursday.

"Mr. Reed vigorously denies those allegations and will be entering a plea of not guilty during his court appearance Wednesday, May 15, 2013," his attorney said.


Texas officials said on Friday they were launching a criminal investigation into the explosion at West Fertilizer Co, a privately held plant that had supplied fertilizers to area farmers for decades. Authorities previously said they suspected the disaster was an industrial accident but had not ruled out other possibilities.

The state fire marshal's office has said ammonium nitrate stored at the plant detonated in the explosion but the cause of the fire and blast have not been determined.

State officials ordered the Texas Rangers to join McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara in conducting the criminal probe.

The sheriff's office said nothing had been found so far to link the charge against Reed to the explosion, and federal authorities said they would not speculate on any possible connection.

According to an email sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services on Friday, an administrator for West's emergency medical service said Reed was relieved of his volunteer role on April 19. No reason was given in the email for his dismissal.

Dr George N. Smith, medical director for West EMS, declined to comment about Reed's arrest or volunteer status.

Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the health services department, said Reed had no history of complaints or disciplinary action filed against him with the state.

Reed is employed as a paramedic at Children's Medical Center of Dallas but has been on leave since April 3, before the plant fire and explosion, hospital spokeswoman Kay Jackson said on Friday. She declined to say why he has been on leave.

Reed's wife, Brittany Reed, asked for privacy for herself and the couple's 2-year-old daughter. Their home was among many destroyed by the blast.

"I am doing my best to maintain safety for myself and my daughter," she told Reuters in a text message. "I am cooperating fully with law enforcement and have been cleared in any wrongdoing."

Bryce Reed's attorney asked that his family, friends and community not rush to judgment before all the facts of the case were known. Reed is being held without bail ahead of his next court hearing and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

"Mr. Reed has been through significant hardship in the wake of the disaster in West and he has responded and served his community with honor and strength," Sibley said.


I hope Walker, Texas Ranger, is working on this case. He always wins!
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