Green Beret accused of trying to carry explosives onto plane is released on bail

Story highlights

  • Trey Atwater out on a $50,000 bond, in supervisor's custody at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Judge: He can't have guns, can't drink, must have mental health test, must give up passport
  • Atwater arrested Saturday after C-4 found in carry-on at Midland International Airport in Texas
  • Court document says smoke grenade also found in his bag in North Carolina on Christmas Eve
A Green Beret charged with attempting to carry explosives onto a commercial airliner in Midland, Texas, was released from jail Friday.
Sgt. 1st Class Trey Scott Atwater was let out on a $50,000 bond into the custody of his supervisor at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Two members of the Army picked up Atwater after a Friday court hearing to escort him back to the base.
Atwater, 30, was arrested Saturday after Transportation Security Administration screeners found an undisclosed amount of C-4 in his carry-on bag.
According to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas, prosecutors have "uncovered no information that would suggest that Sgt. Atwater intended harm to any aircraft, or to the flying public." However, prosecutors do view the matter as "very serious."
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Counts set some other conditions for Atwater's release from jail, including that he will not possess any explosives or firearms, will not drink alcohol, and he must undergo a mental health evaluation. Atwater also had to surrender his Army passport and agree not to get another one. With all the conditions set by the judge, prosecutors said, they do not view Atwater as a flight risk or a danger to the community.
A criminal complaint released Tuesday said that Atwater had 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.
Atwater said it was his practice to carry at least two blocks of C-4 explosives for any operation. He said he brought the bag home with him and used it as a carry-on for children's items when he traveled to Midland for the holidays. He said he didn't realize there were any explosives inside and was "surprised that the C-4 was in the bag when it was located" by TSA screeners.
The court document also said 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 discovered in his bag. In that instance, the grenade was confiscated; Atwater was "admonished" by security officials but allowed to continue on his trip.
According to the complaint, Atwater did not bring up the smoke grenade incident while being questioned about the discovery of the explosives in his bag at Midland International Airport on Saturday. When asked about it by the FBI, he said he had "forgotten to mention it."
No trial date has been set for Atwater on the charge of attempting to board an aircraft with explosives. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Atwater carries the rank of sergeant first class, and his service awards include the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal, according to the Pentagon.