A Louisiana soldier was indicted Monday for manufacturing and detonating a “highly toxic” chemical weapon, federal authorities said.
Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, allegedly used the weapon — which emitted chlorine gas — on April 12 in the Kisatchie National Forest east of Fort Polk, where he was stationed, the indictment says.
Taylor faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana said in a news release.
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After Taylor detonated the weapon, responding emergency personnel suffered chemical exposure and were treated at the Fort Polk hospital, the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
During a search of Taylor’s home, state authorities evacuated his apartment complex and found “suspicious devices and ordnance,” including an improvised explosive that was deactivated by a hazardous materials team, the statement said.
Local authorities charged Taylor with two counts of bomb making and two counts of making fake explosives.
Vernon Parrish District Attorney Asa Skinner said in an interview Monday that he would not pursue those charges, and would instead let the U.S. Attorney’s Office handle its federal case.
Skinner declined to discuss why Taylor allegedly built or detonated the explosives and the chemical weapon.
“That’ll all come out in discovery,” he said.
It was unclear what Taylor's rank in the Army was. The lawyer who represented him on the initial charges, Mary Beaird, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A federal court clerk said Taylor did not yet have a lawyer for the alleged chemical weapons crimes.
Taylor was also indicted in September on a federal child pornography possession charge. He pleaded not guilty in that case.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.