Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion: Who Is Bryce Reed, First Responder Arrested For Possessing Explosives?

By iScienceTimes Staff on May 10, 2013 3:40 PM EDT

Bryce Reed
Bryce Reed, a first responder at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion which claimed 14 lives, has been arrested for possession of a destructive device. (Photo: McLennan County Sheriff)

Police have arrested a volunteer paramedic who was among the first responders at the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, on April 17.

Bryce Reed, 31, was arrested for possession of a destructive device, a federal charge. In his initial court appearance, Reed did not enter a plea.

While it's not yet known what the device was, Houston's News 92 FM says that authorities have "indicated" that the device was a pipe bomb.

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Officials haven't said whether Reed's arrest is related to the fertilizer plant explosion, which killed 14 people and injured 200.

On the day after the plant explosion, Reed told the Los Angeles Times that when he and his friend Cyrus Reed (no relation) arrived at the plant, Bryce Reed was made incident commander, and as such stayed away from the all-consuming fire. Cyrus Reed was closer to the blaze, which turned into an explosion and claimed his life.

"He was my best friend. He got me help through the crisis in my life. He's my brother," Reed said.

But Sarah Reed, Cyrus Reed's sister, told a different tale. She said that her family had been "fooled by Bryce Reed." After Cyrus Reed's death, Sarah Reed said she and her family went through her brother's computer and cellphone records, and found little evidence to suggest that Bryce Reed and Cyrus Reed were close at all.

"He convinced us that he and Cyrus were very close, like brothers. But I want people to know they are not brothers, and he is not part of our family."

On his Facebook page, some have accused Bryce Reed of profiting off of donations in the wake of the fertilizer plant explosion. Reed defended himself, saying, "I have not received ONE CENT for ANYTHING that I did to help with this situation. I have not been paid by the media, by press, I made nothing for delivering my brothers eulogy, and made NOTHING off of this tragedy. I was a shoulder to cry on, I found a GREAT new family, and was blessed to get to tell them about their son."

Amanda Atkins, one of Reed's students in his EMS class, was surprised to hear of his arrest.

"The Bryce Reed that I know is a great guy," Atkins said. "He would do anything for anybody. I would trust him with my life. I don't see him being that type of person at all. He is the most caring, giving guy."

On Friday, law enforcement officials launched a criminal investigation into the explosion. Previous to that, investigators had treated the explosion as an industrial accident.

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