Former West, Texas, paramedic Bryce Reed, indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury for allegedly possessing bomb-making materials, is maintaining his innocence as federal and state investigators prepare to unveil Thursday the results of an investigation into the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people and destroyed much of that Texas town.
Reed was among the first to arrive at the scene of the industrial disaster. He was arrested May 9 after pipe-bomb materials allegedly belonging to Reed were found at a home in Abbott, Texas. The resident told police Reed dropped off the items – including fuses, a pipe, chemicals, a lighter and a digital scale – after the blast.
"Mr. Reed vigorously denies those allegations and will be entering a plea of not guilty during his court appearance," defense attorney Jonathan Sibley said in a statement quoted by Reuters. "Mr. Reed has been through significant hardship in the wake of the disaster in West and he has responded and served his community with honor and strength."
Reed, 31, is officially charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. Authorities have not accused Reed of starting the fire. He was relieved of duty two days after the explosion.
The Waco Tribune-Herald notes that although the charge against Reed refers to a firearm, as opposed to the possession of an explosive device charge used in the criminal complaint against Reed, the language of the indictment clearly refers to the alleged bomb-making materials.
On Thursday the Texas Fire Marshal's Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will release their findings on the cause of the blast. Last week the Texas Department of Public Safety announced a criminal investigation into the explosion.
A May 6 statement by the Texas Department of Insurance says that investigators ruled out "weather, natural causes, anhydrous ammonium, the railcar containing ammonium nitrate, and a fire within the ammonium nitrate bin" as causes of the fire. The statement also said "water used during fire fighting activities did not contribute to the cause of the explosion."