Local News

Fort Bragg soldier charged in Texas airport explosives case

Posted January 2, 2012

— A Fort Bragg soldier was arrested Saturday after trying to go through a security checkpoint at a Texas airport with explosives in military-grade wrapping, according to the FBI.

Trey Scott Atwater, 30, was stopped at security at the Midland International Airport about 9 a.m. Fort Bragg officials confirm he lives in Cumberland County with his wife and children and is an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School.

FBI spokesman Mike Martinez said Atwater was being held at the Midland County jail and has been charged with trying to bring explosives onto an airplane. He will remain in custody at least until his arraignment Tuesday, given that the courts are closed Monday for the holiday, Martinez said.

Army officials say he is likely to face military discipline, in addition to the federal charge.

Atwater and his wife and family had been visiting relatives in the area and were on their way back to his base in North Carolina, according to media reports. It's unclear whether he was in military uniform at the time he was detained, or how many explosives were in the bag.

“I can’t imagine why that would seem like a good idea to someone,” said Lt. Col. Tom Bryant, a spokesman for the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. “I’m sure in the course of the investigation, his reasoning will come out."

"I can’t speak to how he came in possession of that. I guess we’ll find out in the course of the investigation," Bryant added. "We absolutely do not allow service members to take the stuff home. There’s not a reason to have that stuff. We’re all very curious and looking forward to hearing how he wound up with it and wound up with it in that location."

City of Midland spokeswoman Tasa Watts said Saturday that she had no information on the suspect, but confirmed the explosives were in military-grade wrapping. A source told WRAL's CBS affiliate in Odessa, TX, that the material was a C-4 plastic explosive. They say there was no way to ignite it because officers found no detonator, or initiator.

The Transportation Security Administration issued a statement saying one of its officers spotted a suspicious item in a carry-on bag during X-ray screening. The agency said the checkpoint was closed for about an hour while officers investigated and removed the item.

Watts said Atwater was entering a terminal when he was stopped, and a sweep was done to clear that terminal before normal operations resumed.

Court records show Atwater pleaded guilty in February 2002 in North Carolina to misdemeanor possession of a container of wine, liquor or beer by an unauthorized person, and to drinking beer/wine while driving.

WRAL News went to the Atwaters' home in the Grey's Creek area, just south of Fayetteville. Several neighbors described the Atwaters as a typical, friendly family. They said Atwater was trying to sell his house in preparation for an Army reassignment out of state.

13 Comments

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  • mfarmer1 Jan 3, 2012

    It is early in the year to give out awards, but I am guessing he will be on the top 100.

  • Bob3425 Jan 3, 2012

    shieldstas - you're right I stand corrected.

  • shieldstas Jan 3, 2012

    "rmsmith - set c4 on fire and slam it and see what happen. Special Forces or not he stole the C4 and violated the trust the Army, SF and US placed in him, he done."

    Nope. Watch Mythbusters, they already did that episode. Myth Busted.

  • Viewer Jan 3, 2012

    I wonder how tough it will be for him to explain to his fellow soldiers that he was outsmarted by TSA?

  • djofraleigh Jan 3, 2012

    The man was obviously not thinking right. He was not bothered by having C-4 illegally, nor by getting on a plane with it. Perhaps the earlier minor charges/violations were a missed warning of this mentality and lack judgment in being allowed any kind of access to explosives.

    Now he is going to serve time for a federal crime, be dishonorable discharged and perhaps serve time for that. He is a man to be watched, for we trained a man in explosives whose maturity/judgment isn't worthy of the trust.

  • Bob3425 Jan 3, 2012

    rmsmith - set c4 on fire and slam it and see what happen. Special Forces or not he stole the C4 and violated the trust the Army, SF and US placed in him, he done.

  • Mitt from Mexico Jan 3, 2012

    Let the fellow go. He is a highly trained expert / Green Beret and did not have a detonator or other device to make the C-4 dangerous. Without a detonator, C4 is about as dangerous as tooth paste. I'll travel with him anyday on a plane -rmsmith

    Yup. We know a soldier would never do anything wrong. They just hand the stuff out like candy on the base, so there's also no reason to wonder why he had this stuff in the 1st place.

  • Viewer Jan 3, 2012

    He must have thought he was special. Wonder where his new army assignment will be now this is public?

  • vondutchync Jan 3, 2012

    An E-7 doing something crazy like this...Not in my Army lol

  • not my real name Jan 3, 2012

    Not the sharpest tool in the shed is he? Wonder what he was going to do with it when he got home.....

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