A federal grand jury indicted a former West paramedic on a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm Tuesday, on the eve of a hearing that will determine whether he is released on bond or ordered to remain detained until his trial.
A criminal complaint against 31-year-old Bryce Ashley Reed, unsealed Friday and signed by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, alleges Reed was in possession of materials that could be made into a pipe bomb.
Reed “vigorously denies” the possession of an unregistered destructive device charge for which he was arrested and will plead not guilty, according to his court-appointed attorney, Jonathan Sibley.
It was unclear Tuesday why Reed’s charge was changed to refer to a firearm, but the language in both the original complaint for which Reed was arrested and Tuesday’s indictment was identical.
Sibley said he looked forward to seeing the prosecution’s evidence at the Wednesday hearing, to be heard by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske.
Sibley said he thinks Reed poses no danger and should be released on a reasonable bond because no evidence has linked Reed to the April 17 explosion at the West fertilizer plant.
Sibley also said he intends to call Reed’s parents as witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing.
Messages left at the U.S. Attorney’s Office were not returned Tuesday.
In previous statements, representatives have said federal officials “will not speculate” on whether the case has any connection to the blast, which killed 15 people, injured another 200 and damaged hundreds of homes.
McLennan County sheriff’s officials, meanwhile, said Friday there is no evidence that links Reed to the deadly explosion.
Reed has remained in the McLennan County Jail since Friday, held without bond following his arrest.
Suspected pipe bomb
A criminal complaint says Reed came to the attention of investigators after McLennan County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to an undisclosed Abbott residence May 7. There, a bomb squad disabled a suspected pipe bomb, and officials found materials they think could be used to make a pipe bomb, according to Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon.
A sworn affidavit supporting Reed’s arrest states that investigators think an unnamed Abbott resident “unwittingly” took possession of those components from Reed on April 26.
The documents also state that Reed admitted possessing those materials.
In a previously released statement, Sibley said Reed wished “to address any speculation that these allegations are related to the explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant on April 17, 2013.”
“Let me be very clear, Mr. Reed had no involvement whatsoever in the explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant. . . . Mr. Reed is heartbroken for the friends he lost and remains resolute in his desire to assist in the rebuilding of his community,” Sibley said.
“We ask that Mr. Reed’s family, friends and community not rush to judgment. 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.”
Reed gave numerous media interviews in the wake of the blast, and he also eulogized firefighter Cyrus Reed, who is not a relation, during a public memorial for first responders killed in the blast.
In the days that followed Reed’s arrest, his history and career have been heavily scrutinized, including a LinkedIn profile under his name.
At least one education claim on the online resume — listing a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y. — has been disputed. A spokesman for the school, William Stewart, said Reed at one time started the application process for an associate’s degree but never enrolled at the school.
According to state health records, Reed became a certified paramedic in 2005.
His certification is intact, with no history of complaints or disciplinary action, according to Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services.
It appeared that Reed most recently worked as a paramedic at the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
Hospital spokeswoman Kay Jackson said Reed joined the staff Jan. 7 but has been on leave since April 3. She could not provide further information about his employment, citing hospital policy.
And although Reed was previously a volunteer paramedic for West EMS, an email obtained by the Associated Press shows he was “let go” April 19, two days after the explosion.
Williams, the State Health Services spokeswoman, told the Associated Press last week that the agency had opened a regulatory investigation into Reed’s license.
Messages left by the Tribune-Herald for a West EMS supervisor this week were not returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.