The local fire Marshall has not yet released the cause of the explosion in a West, Texas fertilizer complex, and a new wrinkle has investigators turning over another stone. The blast had come after a fire at the distribution facility broke out, and the majority of those killed were first responders. Reports from the McLennan County Sheriff's Department in Texas say a man was taken into custody Thursday and charged with possession of a destructive device on Friday, May 10.
McLennan County law enforcement found what they say could be bomb making materials and explosive components belonging to Bryce Reed in an Abbot, Texas home. Among the items were canisters of fuses, coils of metal, a digital scale and other components including several pounds of chemicals. Reed faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted of possession of a destructive device. But that sentence could be much harsher should authorities find a connection between the man and the deadly explosion.
Yes, sometimes people "just want to build a pipe bomb and see if they could do it," former U.S. Attorney Richard Roper tells The Dallas Morning News. But in Reed's case, this "is certainly a red flag because of his proximity [to the explosion] and position," says Roper.
Officials say Reed -- a former Texas EMT -- arrived on the scene shortly after the explosion and reportedly helped out with search and rescue efforts into the night. No clear connection has been made between Reed and the explosion, and no charges have been filed to that effect. But law enforcement vows to leave 'no stone unturned' in the investigation of the blast, and the coincidence is too great for investigators to ignore.