Trey Scott Atwater, age 30, is scheduled to make a first appearance in federal court in Midland, Texas Tuesday afternoon on the charge of attempting to board a plane with explosives. He was arrested Saturday after Transportation Security Administration screeners found explosive material in his bag.
According to the complaint, Atwater told the FBI he was a demolitions expert with the Army's 7th Special Forces Group and had recently returned from his third deployment to Afghanistan. Investigators said Atwater said it was his practice to carry at least two blocks of C-4 explosives on any operation. Atwater allegedly said when he packed his bags to leave Afghanistan he brought along that bag but "had no recollection of there being any C-4."
Investigators said Atwater told them he grabbed the bag to use as a carry-on when he traveled to Midland, Texas for the holidays and put children's items in it. Atwater allegedly said he didn't see explosives in the main compartment of the bag and was "surprised that the C-4 was in the bag when it was located" by TSA at the Midland International Airport in Texas. Officials did not disclose the amount of explosives found.
The court document says that Atwater had another run-in with airport security while leaving Fayetteville, North Carolina on Christmas Eve en route to Texas when a military smoke grenade was found in his bag. "The smoke grenade was confiscated, and he was admonished before being allowed to continue on his trip," according to the criminal complaint.
When asked about the earlier incident in Fayetteville, Atwater allegedly admitted it had happened but that he had "forgotten to mention it" during his initial interview with law enforcement after he was arrested in Texas.
If convicted Atwater faces a maximum of ten years in prison, according Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas.
According to the Pentagon, Atwater carries the rank of Specialist First Class and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His service awards include the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal.