West EMT "let go" after explosion

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Local 2 Investigates learned an Emergency Medical Technician arrested Friday on federal charges had been "let go" from the West EMS department just days after the explosion, according to state health officials. Bryce Ashley Reed, an EMT who responded to the explosion at the West fertilizer company, currently faces federal charges of possession of a destructive device. However, investigators said they have found no connection between Reed and the explosion.

"We removed him from the roster for West EMS (Friday) after receiving notice that he was let go from there," Carrie Williams with the Texas Department of State Health Services wrote in an email to Local 2.

Williams wrote DSHS, which licenses and regulates EMS workers, was informed by West EMS that Reed was "let go" on April 19th, two days after the explosion. Williams had no reason as to why Reed was "let go" from the department.

Even though he was no longer with the West EMS department, Reed's eulogy of a firefighter killed in the blast, Cyrus Reed, was delivered during an April 25th memorial service.

"I can think of no better way than to allow my brother to pass on than to take comfort in knowing he died doing what he loved," Reed said in his eulogy.

While the two shared a last name, they were not related. Cyrus Reed's sister told Local 2 the family is now questioning whether her brother and Bryce Reed were as close as they were led to believe.

"At the time, we were under the impression that Bryce and Cyrus were very close friends based on stories Bryce had told us upon our arrival in West. We had no reason at the time not to believe him," Sarah Reed wrote in a text message to Local 2. "He offered to do the eulogy and said it would help him honor his friend. In a small town, and in EMS/ VFD departments, everyone forms a tight bond and refers to each other as "brothers". It's not uncommon. We just want to clarify that we had never met Bryce before we came to West, responding to the news of Cyrus, and that he is not a blood relative."

Sarah Reed also stated she began to question the closeness of the friendship after hearing from other people in the town of West who knew Cyrus Reed.

"All we are going off of were stories from others in town that were close to Cy. They reported that Cy and Bryce weren't as close as they used to be," wrote Sarah Reed.

As these developments came to light, an attorney representing Bryce Reed said his client intends to plead not guilty to the federal charges. In a statement to Local 2, Waco attorney Jonathan Sibley also asked the public "not rush to judgment" in respect to the charges filed against Reed.

"Mr. Reed has been through significant hardship in the wake of the disaster in West and he has responded and served his community with honor and strength," Sibley wrote in a statement.

Federal investigators told Local 2 that nine days after the explosion Reed asked a friend in a neighboring town to store a box for him. Documents filed in Waco federal court read that person contacted the McLennan County Sheriff's Office after realizing what was in the container. Court documents show investigators found a capped, galvanized pipe with a small hole drilled in one end cap, a fuse, several pounds of chemical powders in bags, a lighter, a digital scale and metal ribbons.

In the criminal complaint investigators also wrote that "affiant also determined from other law enforcement investigators that Reed admitted to possessing the components of the pipe bomb."

Reed's attorney wrote that his client intends to plead not guilty to the charges when he appears in federal court on May 15th. Even though investigators said they have found no connection between Reed and the explosion at the West Fertilizer company, Sibley addressed the issue in his statement.

"Let me be very clear, Mr. Reed had no involvement whatsoever in the explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant," Sibley wrote.

On the day Reed was arrested, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, announced he had instructed the Texas Rangers and the McLennan County Sheriff's Office to launch a criminal probe into the explosion. Neither McCraw nor the Sheriff's Office would comment on why this action was taken.

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