The Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Is Now a Criminal Investigation

Philip Bump
May 10, 2013

Law enforcement officials in Texas have launched a criminal investigation into the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas last month that killed 15 people. Hours before, West police arrested one of the first responders to that incident for possession of possible bomb-making materials, although no link was drawn between the two announcements.

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In a brief statement posted to its website, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that the Texas Rangers were being directed to look at the explosion for evidence of criminal behavior. The statement quoted the sheriff: “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."

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That announcement came shortly after news broke that Bryce Reed, a volunteer emergency medical services worker in the town, had been arrested. Dallas' reports:

Sources familiar with the case said Reed, 31, was in possession of possible bomb making materials. He is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge Friday morning in Waco.

At this point, agents have not connected the arrest to April 17 West Fertilizer Co. explosion that killed 15, including 12 first responders.

David Schechter, a reporter with WFAA tweeted Reed's mugshot.

TX EXPLOSION:Mug shot of Bryce Reed, EMS medic in West, now accused of possessing bomb making materials.…

— David Schechter (@DavidSchechter) May 10, 2013

Reed was featured in a number of media reports after the explosion, and gave a eulogy for another responder that was killed at the scene. He will be charged in federal court in Waco this morning.

RELATED: Dozens Still Missing in Texas Fertilizer Explosion

The blast at the plant followed a massive fire that is still being investigated. That fire apparently caused the highly combustible ammonium nitrate in the facility to explode.