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FORT POLK, La. - A federal grand jury has indicted a Louisiana soldier on charges accusing him of manufacturing a chemical weapon and detonating it in a forest adjacent to Fort Polk, where he was stationed.
Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, of New Llano, Louisiana, is charged with producing, possessing and using a chemical weapon, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
An investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command found that Taylor made a chlorine bomb and detonated it April 12 in Kisatchie National Forest, the news release said.
The Alexandria Town Talk reported that Taylor was detained when he was found at the scene of the explosion, which sent toxic chlorine gas into the air and started a fire. Emergency personnel who responded to the scene had to be treated at Bayne-Jones Army Hospital, on Fort Polk, for chemical exposure, according to KALB in Alexandria.
Investigators who searched Taylor’s car, which was located near a library on the post, said they found chlorine and bomb-making materials in the vehicle. They were not injured but were decontaminated and evaluated at Bayne-Jones as a precaution, KALB reported.
The chlorine found in the vehicle was a commercially available type used to disinfect swimming pools, the news station said.
The New Llano apartment complex where Taylor lived was evacuated as agents conducted a search of his unit. Nothing suspicious was initially found, but a second sweep of the apartment turned up a pipe bomb and other materials, the Town Talk reported.
The pipe bomb was deactivated by a Louisiana State Police hazmat team, Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office officials said at the time.
Taylor, who was on active duty at the time of his arrest, was also indicted in September on a federal child pornography charge after inappropriate material was found on an iPod belonging to him, the newspaper said.
He was due to go to trial on that charge last month, but his lawyer obtained a continuance because of the ongoing federal investigation.
Taylor remains in federal custody, KALB reported. His bail was set at $1.5 million.