Criminal Justice

Arrested paramedic had nothing to do with Texas plant explosion, lawyer says

A volunteer paramedic who responded to the deadly April explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant has been arrested for possessing components of a pipe bomb.

The arrest of Bryce Reed, 31, spurred his lawyer to release a statement denying his client’s involvement in the blast, report the New York Times and the Dallas Morning News. The Times says 14 people died in the blast, while the Morning News puts the death toll at 15.

Reed has not been identified as a suspect in the explosion, and a spokeswoman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said authorities had no information to link Reed to the tragedy. Police have opened a criminal investigation, however. An affidavit says authorities recovered the explosive materials from a person who had unwittingly taken possession of them.

“Let me be very clear: Mr. Reed had no involvement whatsoever in the explosion,” lawyer Jonathan Sibley said in the statement. “Mr. Reed was one of the first responders and lost friends, family and neighbors in that disaster. Mr. Reed is heartbroken for the friends he lost, and remains resolute in his desire to assist in the rebuilding of his community.” Reed also denies allegations regarding possession of a destructive device and “anxiously awaits his day in court,” the statement says.

Reed had portrayed himself in media interviews as a key volunteer responder to the explosion and had called a firefighter who lost his life, Cyrus Reed, a brother. Later, Bryce Reed said the two are not related. Cyrus Reed’s father also said the two men were not related and said they were not longtime friends, the Times says.

Reed had told the Dallas Morning News he lost his paying paramedic’s job after undergoing mental health examinations following the explosion. But the hospital where he works said he went on leave two weeks before the blast, the newspaper says. He also lost his volunteer paramedic’s job two days after the explosion. Dr. George Smith, who oversaw the volunteer unit, wouldn’t say why Reed was let go, the Times says. But Smith did say Reed was an excellent paramedic.

Prior coverage: “Fertilizer explosion caused some $100M in damage; plant had ‘pathetic’ $1M in insurance”

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