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Criminal investigation launched into Texas fertiliser plant explosion

13 May 2013

A criminal investigation has been launched into the massive Texas fertiliser plant explosion that killed 14 people, after weeks of the blast being treated as an industrial accident. This came on the same day US government agents said they found bomb-making materials belonging to a paramedic who helped evacuate residents on the night of the explosion.

Paramedic Bryce Reed was arrested on May 10 for possessing a destructive device, but law enforcement officials said they had not linked the charge to the April 17th fire and blast at West Fertiliser Company, near Waco.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said earlier that the agency had instructed the Texas Rangers and the sheriff’s department to conduct a criminal probe into the explosion.

The agencies will join the State Fire Marshall’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which have been leading the investigation and never ruled out that a crime may have been committed.

Reed is in custody and a criminal complaint said he was arrested after McLennan County deputies were called earlier this week to a home in Abbott, a town about five miles from West, and found bomb-making materials — including a galvanised metal pipe, canisters filled with fuses, a lighter, a digital scale and a variety of chemical powders.

"Mr. Reed had no involvement whatsoever in the explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant," Reed's attorney, Jonathan Sibley said in a statement. "Mr. Reed was one of the first responders and lost friends, family, and neighbors in that disaster. Mr. Reed is heartbroken for the friends he lost and remains resolute in his desire to assist in the rebuilding of his community."

Reed is due back in court on Wednesday. He faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted of the charges against him

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