Several times in the past week, Bryce Reed posted on Facebook about how hard recent days have been.“Integrity is so hard, especially when it is attacked,” Reed wrote in a post time-stamped 2:55 a.m. on Monday. “I am so sick of being strong. I am so sick of crying. You try to do the right thing, and get kicked for it. I’m so done. I seek no accolades or commendations, I simply wanted to honor the fallen.”
Six and a half hours later, he wrote another post.
“Last night was very hard, but I know I worried a lot of you and I am so very sorry,” Reed wrote. “I am incredibly emotional right now, and it seems like every time I turn around somebody is critiquing me. I’m vertical/breathing so I really cant complain, but I would encourage all of you to follow this: LOVE, not fake love, but LOVE one another.”
Reed, a volunteer paramedic in West, Texas, had been among the first people on the scene of the April 17 fertilizer plant fire and explosion in the town, which left 15 people dead and around 200 others injured. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Reed spoke with several media outlets about his experience at the scene. At a public memorial last month for the 12 people killed responding to the fire at the plant, Reed appeared in a videotaped eulogy for Cyrus Reed, a volunteer firefighter from Abbott, Texas, who Bryce Reed referred to as his “brother,” though the two were not related.
Whatever prompted the anguished Facebook posts, things took another turn on Friday, when Reed was charged in federal court with possession of a destructive device. According to an FBI affidavit, an Abbott resident had “unwittingly” taken possession of pipe bomb components from Reed on April 26. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas said Friday that authorities would not speculate “at this time” about any connection between the destructive device and the explosion. Yet that statement was issued several hours after Texas authorities announced they were launching a criminal investigation into the explosion.
Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, Reed’s stepfather, Gary Nelson, said there was “not a chance” that Reed was involved in the explosion.
“He’s been tore up about it,” Nelson said.
Nelson said Reed’s family is “100 percent behind him.”
But the sister of the Cyrus Reed, the firefighter Bryce Reed eulogized last month, told the newspaper that her family had been “fooled by Bryce Reed.”
“He convinced us that he and Cyrus were very close, like brothers,” Sarah Reed said. “But I want people to know they are not brothers, and he is not part of our family.”
Sarah Reed told the Morning News that she and her family had gone through Cyrus Reed’s computer and cell phone records and, as the paper put it, “found that the two first responders might not have been as close as the suspect led the public to believe.” Furthermore, Sarah Reed said, she had asked police to guard Cyrus Reed’s apartment, because she was concerned that Bryce Reed had been stealing from it.
While Friday’s trouble was public, Bryce Reed’s recent Facebook posts suggest he had also been dealing with personal criticism about his action’s since the explosion. In one post on Tuesday, he also mentioned that, on top of everything that had happened in recent weeks, his wife had left him:
I have not been paid by the media, by press, I made nothing for delivering my brothers eulogy, and made NOTHING off of this tragedy. I was a shoulder to cry on, I found a GREAT new family, and was blessed to get to tell them about their son. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME!!! IT IS ABOUT 12 HEROS THAT DIED TO SAVE LIVES!!!!! I am blessed to be alive. Period. I lost a lot in this and there have been INCREDIBLY kind people who are taking donations so I can get a HOME AND LIFE back, however, never would I PROFIT from anyones death. I loved and still love Cyrus A. Reed, and he loved me. I did and will do what I thought was right. Was I emotionally devistated? Hell yes I was. Have your brother die, your town explode, your crew be emotionally wrecked, and in the midst of it have your wife leave you because you are lost in your own emotions: ALL IN THE SAME WEEK, and see how you fare. People I am doing my BEST to hold myself together, but please for the love of God quit picking me apart. I have to bury yet ANOTHER friend tomorrow. God Bless
Then, on Wednesday, Reed wrote that he was going to take a break from Facebook to “reflect.”
“I assure you that I’m ok,” he wrote. “God bless you all, and please if you heed nothing else I have said, love one another. God bless. Bryce.”
Reed’s attorney, Jonathan Sibley, did not immediately return a request for comment from TPM. The Morning News, meanwhile, reached Bryce Reed’s wife, Brittany Reed, early on Friday. She declined to comment.
“I can’t,” Brittany Reed told the newspaper. “No comment, no comment, no comment right now.”