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US soldier gets 11 years in prison for detonating chemical weapon near base, injuring 2 soldiers

The 4th Civil Engineer Squadron hosted a joint-service explosive ordnance disposal exercise Sept. 13-15 on the EOD range. (Airman Miranda A. Loera/U.S. Air Force)
September 25, 2018

A soldier at Fort Polk was sentenced yesterday to 135 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for manufacturing and detonating a chemical weapon near an Army base in Louisiana.

Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, of New Llano, Louisiana, received his sentence from U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey, according to the Justice Department.

Assistant Attorney General Demers said, “Taylor produced and detonated a chemical bomb near Fort Polk, causing injury to his fellow soldiers who responded to and investigated the incident. Today’s sentence holds Taylor accountable for his crime and makes clear that we will not tolerate such conduct.  I want to thank the agents and prosecutors who are responsible for this result and our military and local law enforcement partners for their significant contributions to this investigation.”

On June 11, Taylor pleaded guilty to detonating a chlorine gas explosive in the Kisatchie National Forest near Fort Polk, on April 12, 2017.

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Three Army soldiers who heard the explosions found Taylor videoing the explosion with his cell phoneThey notified military police about the incident.

Fort Polk military police investigators collected samples from the explosion site.

One investigator placed a rock covered in an unknown substance inside a plastic bag.

“The bag immediately popped, and the investigator’s plastic gloves and boots began to melt. He also began to experience difficulty breathing and his skin started burning,” prosecutors said.

When Taylor was apprehended at Fort Polk, a search of his vehicle turned up fragments of the explosive device and chlorine residue. One of the investigators breathed in the fragments and touched them, then had to be hospitalized.

The two investigators who made contact with the chlorine gas both were forced to end their military careers.

The investigation also recovered notes about making bombs, materials, and chemical residue in Taylor’s vehicle, apartment and storage building.

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“Supporting and protecting our soldiers is of utmost importance to my office. Those serving our country put their lives on the line daily to protect us.   They should not be put in danger needlessly. The chemical weapon the defendant created in this case is banned under international and national laws because of its terrible effects on the human body.  I want to thank our U.S. military, federal and local law enforcement for their combined effort investigating this case and bringing this defendant to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Army Directorate of Emergency Services, Military Police, Criminal Investigation Command, and Military Intelligence/Army Counterintelligence Gulf Coast at Fort Polk, Louisiana; the FBI and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force; the Louisiana State Police; the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office; and local police and fire agencies in Vernon Parish.

The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. McCoy and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis E. Robinson of the Western District of Louisiana, and Trial Attorney David Cora of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism section.