Former West EMT Reed will undergo mental health evaluation

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Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 12:01 am | Updated: 1:10 am, Wed May 22, 2013.

A judge Tuesday ordered the former West paramedic indicted on charges he possessed bomb-making components to undergo a mental health evaluation at a federal prison medical facility.

Bryce Ashley Reed, 31, will remain in the McLennan County Jail until the federal Bureau of Prisons makes arrangements for him to be transferred to a facility, probably one in Springfield, Mo., for psychiatric review, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

U.S. Magistrate Jeffrey C. Manske signed a sealed order Tuesday directing Reed to be evaluated for competency, sanity and overall mental condition, the source said.

Reed, who has said he helped evacuate West residents near the West Fertilizer Co. plant before the April 17 explosion, has been in federal custody since his May 9 arrest by ATF agents on a charge of possession of an unregistered explosive device.

He waived a detention hearing scheduled for last week after his attorney, Jonathan Sibley, and federal prosecutors reached what Sibley described as “some middle ground.”

Sibley declined comment Tuesday about Reed’s impending psychological evaluation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Frazier, who is handling Reed’s case, was out of the office Tuesday, and federal prosecutor Greg Gloff did not return a phone message from the Tribune-Herald seeking comment about Reed.

Reed is said to be depressed since his recent estrangement from his wife and the deaths of his fellow first responders in the West explosion, especially Cyrus Reed, a West firefighter whom Bryce Reed has said was like a brother to him although they were not related.

County records indicate Reed has had jail visits from his mother, his father, his wife and a mental health caseworker.

Reed’s arrest for possession of what federal authorities described as the makings for a small pipe bomb sparked widespread speculation that he might be involved in the tragedy at West.

Sibley has said Reed had nothing to do with setting the fire or causing the explosion that killed 15 and injured 200 and has challenged federal authorities to set the record straight about whether they have evidence to link Reed to the explosion.

“In the previous week,” Sibley said last week, “Mr. Reed has done everything in his power to dispute and unequivocally deny that the allegations against him in this indictment are in any way related to the tragic explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant. Mr. Reed will again unequivocally deny any involvement in that disaster.”

Frazier said last week that federal authorities “would not speculate” if there is evidence to connect Reed to the explosion.

He is charged only with possession of an unregistered firearm and faces up to 10 years in federal prison, if convicted.

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