USA TODAY - A volunteer paramedic who was among the first on the scene of a massive explosion last month at a West, Texas fertilizer plant was arrested early Friday and charged with possession of a destructive device.
Officials have not said whether the arrest of Bryce Reed is related to the April 17 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. that killed 14 people, injured around 200 and destroyed hundreds of homes. However, Reed admitted that a "galvanized metal pipe" and accompanying explosive materials found on April 26 were his, a federal affidavit said.
Firearms agents were alerted to the device when a resident of Abbott, Texas called them about a potentional explosive that the resident had "unwittingly taken possession of" from Reed, the affidavit said.
Reed's arrest came as Texas law enforcement officials said they had launched a criminal investigation into the massive fertilizer plant explosion.
Reed, 31, made an initial appearance in federal court Friday, but did not enter a plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Frazier said he would not release further details until court documents were unsealed sometime later in the day.
Reed admitted to other investigators to possessing components of the pipe bomb, according to the affidavit.
Until now, Investigators have largely treated the explosion as an industrial accident, but the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement that the agency has instructed the Texas Rangers and the McLennan County Sheriff's Department to conduct a criminal probe.
"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," DPS Director Steven McCraw said.
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said residents "must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled they deserve nothing less."
DPS Director Steve McCraw added that the agency wanted "to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered."
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)