Federal authorities discovered components of a pipe bomb that they alleged were in the hands of West, Texas, paramedic Bryce Ashley Reed, according to the criminal complaint charging the 31-year-old with unlawfully possessing an unregistered destructive device.
A 3 1/2-inch by 1 ½-inch metal pipe, a lighter, chemical powders and other substances were found in a home in Abbot, Texas, according to an affidavit from a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms special agent. The home was searched Tuesday, but it’s unclear what sparked the investigation.
Reed was not the owner of the residence, but authorities said the resident “had unwittingly taken possession of the components from Reed” on April 26 -- nine days after the West Fertilizer Co. plant caught on fire and exploded.
Among the powders found during the search were potassium nitrate, aluminum powder, red iron oxide, ammonium perchlorate, potassium perchlorate and sulfur powder, the complaint said.
Authorities announced the arrest of Reed on Friday, the same day the Texas Department of Public Safety said it had launched a criminal inquiry into the West Fertilizer Co. explosion, in which more than a dozen people were killed and scores injured.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas would not say whether the arrest was related to the announcement of the criminal probe.
“At this time authorities will not speculate whether the possession of the unregistered destructive device has any connection to the West fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013,” the office said in a statement.
Reed was arrested Thursday afternoon and made an initial court appearance in Waco, Texas, on Friday morning. He is in federal custody, and his next court date is scheduled for Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The 31-year-old West paramedic, who responded to the explosion, faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on all the charges.