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Ex-paramedic in Texas fertilizer blast sentenced in unrelated case

Bryce Reed, a paramedic in West, Texas, is shown in a McClennan County Sheriff's Office booking photo taken on May 10, 2013. McClennan Count
Bryce Reed, a paramedic in West, Texas, is shown in a McClennan County Sheriff's Office booking photo taken on May 10, 2013. McClennan Count

By Lisa Maria Garza

(Reuters) - A former paramedic who responded to a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant was sentenced on Wednesday to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to federal pipe bomb charges unrelated to the blast, prosecutors said.

Bryce Reed, 31, pleaded guilty in October in U.S. District Court in Waco, Texas to conspiracy to make an unregistered destructive device and attempting to obstruct justice.

Reed admitted conspiring with others from December 2012 to April 26 to make a pipe bomb and then trying to conceal it from investigators or destroy it after the April 17 plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 14 people, prosecutors said.

Reed became one of the faces of the rescue effort in the aftermath of the blast. The exact cause of the fertilizer plant fire that ignited the explosion remains unknown.

His arrest in May drew national attention because it occurred while local and federal authorities were investigating the explosion in West, which is about 20 miles north of Waco.

"I love my community and there is nothing on this Earth that I would do to hurt them," Reed said in an online video posted before his sentencing.

In December 2012, Reed performed Internet searches using terms such "explosives," "explosive ingredients" and "instructions for making explosives" and then placed orders for materials, prosecutors said in court documents.

Reed ordered sulfur powder, red iron oxide, potassium perchlorate, magnesium ribbons, potassium nitrate powder and other materials, prosecutors said.

A second, unnamed person helped Reed assemble a housing for the bomb, which Reed stored at his house along with the materials he had ordered, prosecutors said.

After the plant explosion, Reed had the materials moved to an acquaintance's house in nearby Abbott, Texas. The person looked in the box for the first time in May and notified authorities, prosecutors said.

Reed was also sentenced to three years supervised release and fined $2,000.

(Reporting By Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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