Fort Bragg soldier charged in Texas airport explosives case
Posted January 2, 2012
MIDLAND, Texas — 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.