Alexa

Soldier arrested at Texas airport freed on bond

Soldier arrested at Texas airport freed on bond

A soldier arrested at a Texas airport and charged with trying to bring military-grade explosives on a cross-country flight was freed on bond Friday and allowed to return to North Carolina, where he is based.
David Counts, a federal magistrate judge in Midland, released Sgt. 1st Class Trey Scott Atwater on $50,000 unsecured bond, determining the Fort Bragg-based Green Beret was a low flight risk.
Atwater, 30, is charged with trying to bring explosives onto an airplane, which carries a maximum 10-year federal prison sentence.
He was detained Saturday at Midland International Airport after authorities say security officers found C4 explosives in his carry-on luggage. Atwater, who lives in Hope Mills, North Carolina, and grew up in Midland, had his family with him when he was arrested.
According to court documents, Atwater told FBI agents he's a demolitions expert and had returned from his third tour in Afghanistan in April. He said his Army special forces team always carried C4, which troops use to blow the hinges off doors or destroy unexploded ordnance, and that he didn't know it was in his bag when he returned from his most recent deployment.
Agents said he told them the bag had been in his garage until the trip to Texas, and that he only used the bag's main compartment when packing.
Atwater was detained at the Fayetteville, North Carolina, airport on Dec. 24 when security agents found a military smoke grenade in his carry-on bag. Court documents don't specify _ and transportation officials have declined to say _ whether investigators now suspect C4 was in Atwater's bag then or whether he acquired it later.
Atwater did not say where he got the C4, although his comments in court documents indicate he could have brought it from Afghanistan.
After the smoke grenade was confiscated, Atwater was "admonished" and allowed to fly to Texas, court documents said. Typically, bags are thoroughly searched and placed on X-ray machines for a second time after a suspicious item is found, although court documents don't say whether that was done in Atwater's case.
C4 looks like a block of clay and requires a blasting cap or detonator to explode. Combat troops have ready access to the explosive, which can also be used as fuel for heating water or rations.
The U.S. military forbids troops from taking C4 out of combat zones, but the screening process for troops heading home is not as stringent as for people flying on commercial airlines.
___
Associated Press writer Martha Waggoner in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.