Why Was A Paramedic Charged With Explosives Possession In West, Texas? (Updated)

Although they have not said it is related to the fertilizer plant explosion last month, federal authorities have charged a paramedic in the town of West, Texas with possession of an explosive device. What's going on?

West paramedic Bryce Reed, 31, was arrested early this morning and taken into custody by U.S. Marshals, according to the Dallas Morning News. He is expected in a Waco federal court later this morning.

Again, it's very important to stress that authorities have not yet said whether Reed's case is tied to the plant explosion that killed 15 people and injured 200. Reuters spoke to a source who said he was unsure if that connection existed.

At the same time a criminal investigation was launched into that case today, according to the Austin American-Statesman, but that could have happened for many reasons given the severity of the incident and the possibility of negligence.

Reed spoke to the Morning News about helping victims escape from the explosion's aftermath and attending the funerals of several of his friends. He told the newspaper that on the night of the fire he had been sitting at home with his wife, a nurse, and then the two drove around urging people to evacuate. Then they "heard the boom" of the explosion, he said, which is when he said he knew "this was going to be a mass casualty."

If his charge is unrelated to the plant explosion, and so far there are no indications it was, it must be horrible timing for him. Obviously, the authorities are looking at every related angle and may have stumbled on something Reed owned that's entirely unrelated.

Said a person who claimed to be a friend of Reed's in the comments:

For those of you bickering back and forth, let me just say one thing. I have known Bryce and have been a close friend for 15 years. Bryce is an amazing person whom would do anything for anyone. If you read what they are reporting, they have stated that this isn't related to the explosion in West. I can't say what is exactly going on, but I will say that I will stand by and support my friend. He is a genuine, caring person who dedicated his life to saving the lives of others.

We'll have more on this as it develops.

Update: The Dallas Morning News still has no information about whether Reed's charges relate to the explosion, but they now report that he was arrested after authorities say he gave a pipe bomb-like device to an unnamed resident in nearby Abbott nine days after the explosion.

According to an affidavit from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, someone who lives in Abbott called the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday about a “possible destructive device” that they had “unwittingly taken possession of” from Reed.

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.

Their story notes that Reed has been accused of pretending to be close with another paramedic whom he eulogized after the man was killed in the explosion. That paramedic's family members have said he and Reed were not close friends.

Reed's Facebook page also indicates people have accused him of profiting from the blast, including getting paid for interviews, something that he has denied.

Photo credit AP