Bryce Reed, a West EMT Whose Best Friend Died in Blast, Arrested for Having "Destructive Device" [Updated]

Updated below.

Original story, 10:05 a.m.: An EMT and incident commander with West Emergency Medical Services was arrested early this morning on charges of possessing a "destructive device," multiple media outlets are reporting.

Bryce Reed, 31, is in federal custody. There are two different interpretations of the arrest being presented: Fox 4 reports that he's been arrested "in connection to the investigation of the explosion in West, Texas, that killed 15 people." They say the source of that information is unnamed agents with the federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms bureau. But The Dallas Morning News reports that officials haven't yet said whether Reed's arrest was related to the explosion. Under state and federal law, a "destructive device" can mean almost anything: a grenade, a bomb, a missile, poison gas or certain types of firearms.

See also: As West, Texas Counts Its Dead, Some See a Chance to Make a Profit

Reed was interviewed frequently in the aftermath of the April 17 explosion at the West fertilizer plant. He told the L.A. Times a heartbreaking story about heading to a close friend's house to tell them that their son Cyrus Reed, a fellow EMT (and evidently no relation), had died in the explosion. A slideshow at USA Today appears to show Reed weeping at his friend's funeral. In an interview with ABC affiliate KRGV TV, Reed said, "This is a community that makes sure we take care of our own."

According to the News, Reed was arrested around 2 a.m. and was booked into McLennan County Jail before being taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals. He's due to be arraigned at 10:15 in Waco.

WFAA reports that Reed was a volunteer EMS worker, and was placed on leave immediately after the explosion. Every other news outlet refers to him as a current EMT. We'll have updates on this story as they become available.

Update, 10:17: That beeping you hear? That's Fox 4 back-tracking.

Update, 10:32: The Texas Rangers are launching a criminal investigation into the explosion, WFAA's David Schechter reports.

Update, 1:08 p.m.: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that "unnamed federal sources" told TV station KPRC that the "destructive device" was a pipe bomb:

Houston TV station KPRC quoted unnamed federal sources as saying Reed had asked an acquaintance to store a box for him sometime after the April 17 explosion. The sources said that person decided to look in the box and discovered what appeared to be a pipe bomb. They then called the McLennan County Sheriff's office who contacted federal investigators.

Reed's recent posts on Facebook have been deeply distraught. He repeatedly denies having received any money for his media interviews after the West bombing, and speaks about his grief over Cyrus Reed's death, as well as the death soon after of another friend in an unrelated incident. He also mentions in a May 7 post that his wife recently left him. Part of the post reads:

Have your brother die, your town explode, your crew be emotionally wrecked, and in the midst of it have your wife leave you because you are lost in your own emotions: ALL IN THE SAME WEEK, and see how you fare. People I am doing my BEST to hold myself together, but please for the love of God quit picking me apart. I have to bury yet ANOTHER friend tomorrow. God Bless

On Wednesday, Reed wrote that he was taking a break from posting on the site: "I'm going to take a break from Facebook to reflect. I assure you that I'm ok. God bless you all, and please if you heed nothing else I have said, love one another. God bless. Bryce."

Update, 2:20 p.m.: Jason Trahan over at WFAA has posted a copy of the federal complaint against Reed. The attached affidavit, written by an ATF agent, says that Reed possessed the "components of a pipe bomb," including a metal pipe, end caps, a hobby fuse, a lighter, a plastic spoon, coiled metal ribbons and "several pounds of chemical powders in individual bags."

The affidavit states that a person at a house in Abbott had "unwittingly taken possession" of the pipe bomb components from Reed.

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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan