West EMS worker charged with possession of explosive device

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by Jeremy Rogalski & Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News & KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 6:41 PM

WEST, Texas — A West EMS technician was arrested early Friday and charged with possession of a destructive device.

Bryce Reed, 31, was booked into the McLennan County Jail and appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Waco Friday morning.

A tip first led McLennan County Sheriff's deputies to a home in Abbott that belongs to Reed's friend. On May 7, they searched the home and found an assortment of bomb-making components.

The owner of the home said Reed brought them there and asked him to store them about a week after the West explosion that killed 14 people. The homeowner told investigators he had no idea what they were. He has not been charged.

The components included a three-and-a-half-inch long galvanized metal pipe that had galvanized end caps attached. In addition, they found canisters containing an unknown amount of hobby fuse, a lighter, a digital scale, plastic spoon, six coils of metal ribbon and several pounds of chemical powders in individual bags.

ATF experts examined the contents and agreed they could be readily assembled into a destructive device; particularly a pipe bomb. They determined Reed was the owner of the materials and placed him under arrest.

There is no confirmation that Reed’s arrest is related to the April 17th plant explosion that injured more than 200 people.

The McLennan County Sheriff announced Friday that he asked the Texas Rangers to join the criminal investigation.

"We want to do a very thorough investigation, so we’ve asked the Texas Rangers to come in and assist," said McLellan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.

The sheriff said it's just a coincidence that he asked for assistance on the same day Reed was arrested.

"At this time, we don’t have any information at all that ties this incident to the explosion in West," McLellan said.

Federal sources say they haven't ruled it out.

ATF agents were spotted at the homes of some of Reed’s relatives on Friday.

Twelve of the 14 victims who died in the West explosion were first responders.

Reed, who treated some of the victims, spoke to the media frequently in the aftermath of the explosion.

"I can tell you there’s absolutely no words that I possess that can convey adequately what I saw," Reed told CNN. "It went from my hometown and my reality and my existence to a war zone in an instant, and I haven’t even had time to process that yet." 

During the April 25th memorial in Waco, he gave a previously recorded eulogy for firefighter Cyrus Reed, the man he called his best friend.

"Cyrus was on fire for life," Reed said. "He wasn't ready to die."

But Cyrus Reed’s sister, Sarah, told the Dallas Morning News Friday that her family was fooled by Bryce Reed into thinking they were close.

"He is not part of our family," Sarah Reed said.

She also told the newspaper she suspected Bryce Reed of stealing from her dead brother.

Bryce Reed recently posted on his Facebook page: "It seems every time I turn around somebody is critiquing me."

He also denied accusations that he profited from donations meant for victims of the explosion.

"I’ve not received one cent for anything," Reed said on Facebook.

Two days ago, Reed posted that he was going to take a break from Facebook to reflect.

"I assure you that I’m okay," he wrote.

Reed has worked for West EMS for 10 years.

Reed remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on May 15. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

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