McLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KXAN/AP) - An emergency worker arrested by federal authorities in West had an assortment of "bomb-making components" in his possession, officials said Friday afternoon.
But they were quick to add that they were not speculating on whether the devices had any connection to the deadly blast on April 17.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news released that Bryce Ashley Reed, 31, was arrested Thursday by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
According to an affidavit released by the federal court in Waco, the McLennan County Sheriff's Office was called on Tuesday to home in Abbott, which is near West, about "a possible destructive device" and related items. The affidavit said that law enforcement officials determined that the device and related items belonged to Reed.
The affidavit describes the material found as a 3.5-inch galvanized metal pipe an inch and a half in diameter. Two galvanized end caps were attached to the pipe. One end cap had a small hole drilled into it.
Canisters containing a fuse, a lighter, six coils of metal ribbon and several pounds of chemical powders were also found. The powders were described as potassium nitrate, aluminum powder, red iron oxide, ammonium perchlorate, sulfur powder and other materials.
The affidavit said that the materials had been left in the home by Reed on April 26, but the person at the home did not what had been left.
Potassium nitrate is used in fertilizers and can also be used in fireworks and gunpowder. Aluminum powder, potassium nitrate and sulfur are common ingredients in flash powder. The affidavit said ATF explosives and chemistry experts determined that the materials "can be readily assembled into a destructive device."
The sheriff's office warned against jumping to any conclusions based on what officials have released so far.
"It is important to emphasize that at this point, no evidence has been uncovered to indicate any connection to the events surrounding the fire and subsequent explosion at the fertilizer plant and the arrest of Bryce Reed by the ATF," the office said in a news release.
Reed, acted as the town's spokesman in the aftermath of the blast, had a court appearance in Waco on Friday and will remain in custody pending a detention hearing on Wednesday.
Reed was working as a West paramedic the night of the explosion, but he was "let go" two days later, according to an email that a regional EMS group sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The email, obtained by the AP under Texas' open-records law, included no other details.
His Reed's wife, Brittany Reed, declined to comment early Friday.
"I can't. No comment, no comment, no comment right now," she said before hanging up the phone.
Even though officials declined to connect the arrest to the blast that killed 14 and destroyed scores of homes, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that he directed the Texas Rangers to joined a criminal investigation started by the sheriff's office.
"This disaster has severely impacted the community of West, and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered," said DPS Director Steven McCraw.
McLennan Sheriff Parnell McNamara added: "The citizens of McLennan County and Texas must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled – they deserve nothing less."
Reed was among West's most visible residents after the blast. He was quoted in several national media outlets and was among the speakers at the April 25 memorial in Waco where President Barack Obama delivered the official eulogy.
Reed spoke about his friendship with Cyrus Reed, one of the first responders who was killed in West. The two were not related, but often referred to each other as "brother" because of their common last name. The video is posted on the website of KXAS, the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Since the blast, state and federal workers have sorted through much of the debris with rakes, shovels and by hand. The material they considered to be possible evidence was stacked atop blue tarps — "boneyards" — scattered over the site. The rest of the debris was trucked away.
The large crater left in the blast has been mapped, excavated with heavy equipment and raked through by investigators, Hoback said. It could provide clues to how much ammonium nitrate was on site and other details of the blast, officials have said.
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