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Fork Polk soldier sentenced to 11 years in chlorine explosion

Posted at 11:18 AM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 12:18:39-04

LAFAYETTE — A Fort Polk soldier has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for manufacturing and detonating a chlorine weapon in the Kisatchie National Forest, U.S.  Attorney David C. Joseph’s office announced on Tuesday.

Ryan Keith Taylor, 24, of New Llano, pleaded guilty in June to producing, possessing and using a chemical weapon in violation of federal law. He also faces five years of supervised release.

Taylor detonated the an explosive device containing chlorine gas on April 12, 2017, in the forest near Fort Polk, according to a press release:

Three U.S. Army soldiers who were conducting a training exercise nearby heard the explosions and found Taylor standing near his vehicle filming the explosion with his cell phone. They then questioned Taylor and reported the incident to military police.

Upon arriving at the site of the explosion, Fort Polk military police investigators examined the scene and began collecting samples at the blast site. One investigator filled a plastic bag with a rock coated in an unknown substance. The bag immediately popped, and the investigator’s plastic gloves and boots began to melt. He also began to experience difficulty breathing and his skin started burning. Law enforcement later detained Taylor at Fort Polk and searched his vehicle. During the search, investigators found remnants of the explosive device and chlorine residue, which one investigator inhaled and touched, causing him to be hospitalized. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents found bomb-making notes, materials and chemical residue in Taylor’s vehicle, apartment and storage building. The two victims who inhaled the chlorine gas were treated multiple times for their injuries and effectively ended their military careers.

The U.S. Army Directorate of Emergency Services, Military Police, Criminal Investigation Command, and Military Intelligence/Army Counterintelligence Gulf Coast at Fort Polk, Louisiana; the FBI and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force; the Louisiana State Police; the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office; and local police and fire agencies in Vernon Parish investigated the case.

U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. McCoy, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis E. Robinson, and Trial Attorney David Cora of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism section prosecuted the case.