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West Responder Arrested for Possession of 'Destructive Device' (Update)

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: The “destructive device” Bryce Reed was said to possess was a pipe bomb.

U.S. District Court charging documents for Bryce Reed state that on May 7, an unnamed person called the Sheriff’s Office regarding components Reed had left with them – components an ATF agent says form a pipe bomb.  You can read the documents here.

Update (11:56 a.m.): StateImpact Texas notes there are now two investigations into the West plant explosion: one existing investigation into the origin and cause of the fire, lead by the State Fire Marshall’s Office office and the ATF; and the new, DPS-helmed investigation into any potential criminal activity, spurred by the arrest of West paramedic Bryce Reed. 

In a statement, the Fire Marshal’s office says:

“Due to an unrelated investigation and the recent arrest of Bryce Reed by ATF on a charge unrelated to the West Fertilizer Plant fire and explosion, the SFMO will be partnering with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, and ATF to ensure that all potential facts and leads related to the incidents in West are investigated to the fullest extent.”

Original post (10:49 a.m.): There’s news out of West, Texas, that a responder to the devastating blast there has been arrested for the possession of a “destructive device.”

West paramedic Bryce Reed was arrested around 2 a.m. and was booked into McLennan County Jail, and is expected in Waco federal court this morning, the McLennan County Sheriffs' Office tells KUT News. It is not clear at this time if his arrest is related to the West fertilizer plant explosion.

Reed was the subject of a previous Morning News story about the effects of the blast on survivors. “They’re rescuing the rescuers,” Reed said of therapists and counselors available to the West responders. “They’re really walking through hell with us to help us get to the other side.”

Cyrus Reed, a firefighter for the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department, was killed in the blast. Though not related by blood, the two were "brothers," according to a remembrance of Cyrus Reed from a memorial service for the fallen firefighters and first responders. 

The news comes as the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that the Texas Rangers are joining with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office in launching a criminal investigation of the West plant explosion. No suspect is named in the DPS release. Below, the full release from DPS:

McLennan County Sheriff and Texas Rangers to Launch Criminal Investigation into West Plant Explosion Officials continue to assist community in recovery effort AUSTIN – Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw today directed the Texas Rangers to join McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara in launching a criminal investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion that occurred in West, Texas, on April 17. “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,” said Director McCraw.

“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,” said Sheriff McNamara.  No further information regarding this ongoing investigation will be released at this time.  Three weeks after the disaster in West, DPS Division of Emergency Management officials also continue to work with local, state and federal partners to assess the damages and facilitate recovery assistance to the victims in the community. For more information about disaster assistance, visit:

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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