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Paramedic arrested in West, Texas for having a destructive device

An investigator looks over a destroyed fertilizer plant in West, Texas.
(LM Otero / Associated Press)
<i>This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.</i>

HOUSTON--A local paramedic who responded to the massive fertilizer plant fire last month in West, Texas, has been arrested for allegedly possessing a destructive device.

Bryce Reed, 31, was arrested late Thursday by officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to staff at the McLennan County Jail.

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Reed was booked at 2:40 a.m. and released to ATF custody about five hours later, jail staff said.

Officials have not said whether Reed’s arrest was related to the April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15, injured about 200 and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Reed could not be reached for comment, although he spoke with the Los Angeles Times soon after the massive West Fertilizer Co. explosion in the town of about 2,800 situated about 76 miles south of Dallas.

At the time, Reed said he narrowly escaped injury when he was ordered south of the fire just before the explosion to take the role of incident commander while his friend, a fellow first responder whose name had not been released, stayed at the scene.

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“He was my best friend. He got me help through the crisis in my life. He’s my brother,” Reed said. “I have to go to his family right now.”

McLennan County Sheriff’s dispatchers said they could not comment on the arrest and referred calls to officials who were not immediately available.

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Texas Department of Public Safety officials said they are investigating, according to a Friday statement posted on their website.

“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,” the statement said.

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“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,” McCraw said.

The statement noted that three weeks after the fatal explosion, Department of Public Safety 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.”

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“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,” McNamara said.

DPS and sheriff’s officials declined to release further information, and could not be reached for comment Friday.

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[For the record, 12:15 p.m., PDT May 11: An earlier version of this post said Bryce Reed was arrested early Friday. He was arrested late Thursday.]

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