LAKE CHARLES, La. (Dept. of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office Western Dist. of Louisiana) - Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a Fort Polk soldier with manufacturing and detonating a chemical weapon in the Kisatchie National Forest adjacent to the Fort Polk Army installation.
Ryan Taylor (Courtesy: Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office)
Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, of New Llano, La., was charged with producing, possessing and using a chemical weapon in violation of federal law. According to the indictment, Taylor manufactured and detonated a chemical weapon on April 12, 2017 in the Kisatchie National Forest that resulted in the release of highly toxic chlorine gas into the atmosphere.
Taylor faces up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
The FBI and U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis E. Robinson are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the AP, court records showed the indictment was returned last week. Taylor has not entered a plea in the case. Court records show he is in federal custody. He was indicted in September on a federal child pornography possession charge. He pleaded not guilty in that case. His attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.
Fort Polk's command is aware of the charges and is monitoring the situation, but can't make any other comment regarding an ongoing case.
On April 12th The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the FBI and advised that an incident had taken place around noon in an area deemed as an L.U.A. (Limited Use Access Area) of the Fort Polk Army Installation involving some type of chemical. Emergency Personnel responding to the area did begin to suffer from some type of chemical exposure and were treated at Bayne Jones Army Hospital on Fort Polk.
Ryan Keith Taylor was identified as the person responsible for the incident and he was detained by Army Officials. It was later learned that Taylor resided in New Llano and a search warrant was prepared for his residence.
As a precautionary measure residents of the Mona Lisa Apartment Complex and the immediate area surrounding the apartments were evacuated that evening.
A Hazardous Material Team from the Louisiana State Police conducted a search of Taylor’s apartment and did find suspicious devices and ordinances within the residence.
One improvised explosive device was deactivated by the Haz Mat Team and the other items were collected into evidence.
Taylor's vehicle was also searched that day on post. According to a press release on April 13th from the Fort Polk Public Affairs Office:
"A commercially available substance most commonly used as a disinfectant for swimming pools was discovered. First responders, unaware of the properties of the substance, took precautionary measures and set up HAZMAT procedures around the vehicle in the parking lot of the Library and Education Center. Some responders underwent decontamination as a precaution and were later taken to Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital where they were medically evaluated and released."
Ryan Keith Taylor was escorted to VPSO by Agents with the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command.
Taylor was arrested on April 14th and charged with two counts of Bomb Making and two counts of Fake Explosive Devices. Bond was set at $ 1.5 million dollars by 30th JDC Judge C. Anthony Eaves.
According to the VPSO Criminal Division, Taylor remained in VPSO custody until September, when he was released to U.S. Army Military Police.