Soldier who built, detonated bomb in Louisiana gets 11 years

A Louisiana soldier was sentenced to 11 years in prison Monday for constructing and detonating a bomb last year near the Fort Polk Army post.

Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, of New Llano, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in June to manufacturing and detonating a chemical weapon in the Kisatchie National Forest. The bomb contained “highly toxic chlorine gas,” which is banned under national and international laws, the Department of Justice said in a news release.

Two soldiers suffered severe injuries after coming into contact with the chemical and its residue.

“Those serving our country put their lives on the line daily to protect us,” said David C. Joseph, US Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. “They should not be put in danger needlessly.”

Taylor had faced up to life in prison.

Taylor detonated the bomb on the morning of April 12, 2017, in the Kisatchie National Forest beside the Fort Polk Army base, according to his guilty plea. Three soldiers in the middle of a training exercise nearby heard the blast and found Taylor filming the explosion with his cell phone. The soldiers questioned Taylor and told military police who arrived on scene to investigate, according to the Justice Department.

As police collected samples, one investigator put a rock covered in an unknown substance in a bag, which immediately popped. The investigator’s plastic gloves and boots began to melt, his skin began to burn and he had trouble breathing, the Justice Department said in its release.

Taylor was detained and his vehicle was searched, the release said. Investigators found remnants of the bomb and chlorine residue in the car. Law enforcement agents ultimately found bomb-making notes, materials and chemical residue in Taylor’s vehicle, apartment and storage building, the Justice Department said.

Another investigator, who inhaled and touched the residue, was hospitalized.

The two investigators who inhaled the chlorine gas were treated multiple times for their injuries “and effectively ended their military careers,” the Justice Department said.

“Today’s sentence holds Taylor accountable for his crime and makes clear that we will not tolerate such conduct,” said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.