Ex-paramedic jailed after Texas explosion released on bail

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2013 10:00 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - A former paramedic who responded to a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant in April, only to be charged weeks later with unlawful possession of pipe bomb components, was released from a county jail on Thursday.

A federal judge ordered Bryce Reed, 31, to be released on a $25,000 bond into the custody of his mother.

Reed was indicted in May for possession of an unregistered destructive device. Earlier he had become one of the faces of the rescue effort in the aftermath of the massive explosion in the town of West.

The West Fertilizer Co facility exploded on April 17 about 20 minutes after a fire was reported at the plant. The blast killed 14 people and badly damaged a residential area, including an apartment building, nursing home and school.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. Investigators say they have not eliminated the possibility that it was set intentionally.

This month McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said a state law enforcement report on Reed concluded there was no evidence linking him to the incident. Reed has denied any involvement.

Reed was a volunteer emergency medical technician who became one of the better-known faces of the town following the blast. When the fire broke out at the plant, he assisted in the evacuation, he told Reuters. He later learned that a close friend was among the dead.

His trial is due to begin at federal court in Waco on September 23.

On Thursday, Jonathan Sibley, Reed's attorney, said his client was "thrilled" with the judge's decision.

"We are glad the court reviewed the evidence and decided that Mr. Reed should be released pending his trial," Sibley said in an email. "We look forward to our day in court and addressing the allegations against Mr. Reed."

(Editing by Edith Honan and Xavier Briand)