West Paramedic Strikes Plea Deal in Pipe Bomb Materials Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bryce Ashley Reed was arrested after West's deadly fertilizer plant explosion on unrelated allegations that he collected pipe-bomb materials. On Wednesday, he reached a plea agreement, according to a court filing. (Published Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013)

    A West paramedic arrested after the town's deadly fertilizer plant explosion on unrelated allegations that he collected pipe-bomb materials has reached a plea agreement, according to a court filing Wednesday.

    Bryce Ashley Reed became one of his town's most outspoken voices after the April blast, so his arrest, which came during the investigation into the explosion, shocked town residents and garnered attention. Butauthorities never accused Reed of having any role in the blast.

    Reed's attorney, Jonathan Sibley, asked a federal judge for the rest of the day Wednesday to finalize a plea agreement with a federal prosecutor ahead of a Thursday court appearance in Waco. Sibley said in the filing that he has "been negotiating a plea bargain and have reached an agreement."

    Sibley's filing did not include any details of the proposed agreement. He and prosecutor Mark Frazier did not return phone messages Wednesday.

    Authorities accused Reed in a criminal complaint of giving a metal pipe, chemical powders and other materials to an unknown person who contacted authorities. Reed, 31, has previously pleaded not guilty to one count of knowingly and unlawfully possessing a destructive device.

    The blast at West Fertilizer Co. on April 17 killed 15 people, including 10 first responders and two others volunteering to fight an initial fire.

    Reed's arrest and the allegations leveled by federal authorities shook West, a small and close-knit town where Reed was well-known.

    In the days immediately after the blast, Reed told victims' families and residents that they were safe and offered information to media about what had happened -- even as federal and state authorities declined to answer many questions and other first responders clammed up.

    After his arrest, documents released by a regional EMS organization showed that Reed had been dismissed from his volunteer position as a West firefighter two days after the blast. And the family of a firefighter who died in the blast, Cyrus Reed, would disavow claims that Bryce Reed made in media interviews and at a public memorial that the two men were like brothers, either in blood or in friendship.

    Reed was released on $25,000 bond in August and was ordered to stay with his mother, who lives in suburban Dallas.

    The federal arrest prompted state and local authorities to open their own, separate criminal investigation. But neither federal nor state authorities have accused anyone of committing a crime related to the explosion.

    The Texas State Fire Marshal and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declared the cause of the blast as "undetermined" one month after it happened. The fire marshal's investigation remains open. They said they could narrow the number of possible causes to three: a problem with one of the plant's electrical systems, a battery-powered golf cart and a criminal act.

    Reed was scheduled to go to trial Oct. 15. In August, he was released on Bond into the custody of his parents.