Texas paramedic Bryce Reed to plead not guilty to explosives charge

A mugshot of Bryce Reed, who was charged with possession of a destructive device. Reed is a paramedic who responded to the deadly April 17 explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. McLelland County Sheriffâ??s Office

WACO, Texas A lawyer for a Texas paramedic arrested on charges of possessing bomb-making material says his client will plead not guilty and had no connection to the fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people last month.

Waco attorney Jonathan Sibley said in a prepared statement Saturday that his client, Bryce Reed, anxiously awaits his next court appearance Wednesday, which will include a detention hearing.

Authorities arrested Reed on Friday, but stressed that he has not been linked to the April 17 explosion in West.

The statement said Reed remained "heartbroken" about the explosion, in which he lost friends, and wants to continue to help his community rebuild.

Reed was a first responder, but two days after the explosion was "let go" from West EMS for unknown reasons.

On Friday, the Texas Department of Public Safety said that the agency had instructed the Texas Rangers and the McLennan County Sheriff's Department to conduct a criminal probe into the explosion.

"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," DPS Director Steven McCraw said.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said residents "must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled - they deserve nothing less."

The statement did not detail any further reasons for the criminal investigation and said no additional information would be released.

Officials have largely treated the explosion as an industrial accident, though investigators still searching for the cause of a fire that preceded the blast have said they would treat the area as a crime scene until all possibilities were considered. Authorities have focused on ammonium nitrate, a chemical commonly used as a fertilizer, but that also can be explosive in the right conditions, as the cause of the explosion.

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