Paramedic arrested as criminal probe opens on Texas plant blast
Reuters/Reuters - Bryce Reed, a paramedic in West, Texas, is shown in a McClennan County Sheriff's Office booking photo taken on May 10, 2013. McClennan County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters
By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) - A paramedic in West, Texas, has been arrested for possession of an explosive device, a federal official said on Friday, but it was not immediately clear whether there was a connection to a deadly explosion last month at a fertilizer plant in the town.
Texas officials also announced on Friday that they had opened a criminal investigation into the April 17 explosion that killed 14 people and injured about 200 others.
The man arrested was Bryce Reed, said Franceska Perot, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A source familiar with the matter said it was not clear that the arrest was linked to the blast at West Fertilizer Co.
"I don't know that they're making that connection," said the source, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.
An employee at McLennan County Jail, who asked not to be identified, said Reed, 31, was brought to the jail at 2 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) and handed over to federal agents at 8 a.m. (1300 GMT).
A call to Reed's cell phone went straight to voicemail on Friday. Reed's wife, Brittany, said in a text message Friday that she could not comment.
The state fire marshal's office has said that ammonium nitrate stored at the plant detonated in the explosion but that the cause of the fire and blast were still being investigated.
Bryce and Brittany Reed told Reuters last month that they were listening to music at their home when they heard the town's siren and jumped into their truck to warn people nearby.
"Get your kids and go!" the couple said they yelled at residents of an apartment complex near the plant. They said they were about 50 to 75 yards from the plant when the blast rocked their car.
Bryce Reed said that his home was destroyed and that he lost his best friend, volunteer firefighter Cyrus Reed, in the blast. The two are not related, but were so close they considered each other brothers, Bryce Reed said at the time.
"There's no words to convey the magnitude of this incident," Bryce Reed he said then.
(Additional reporting by Corrie MacLaggan, Colleen Jenkins and David Ingram; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)