Louisiana soldier who detonated chemical weapon sentenced to 11 years

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By Tim Stelloh  with NBC News U.S. News
Ryan Keith Taylor
Ryan Keith Taylor   -   Copyright  Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office via KPLC

A Louisiana soldier who pleaded guilty to making and detonating a chemical weapon was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday, federal authorities said.

The blast set off by Ryan Keith Taylor last year emitted chlorine gas, badly injuring two investigators, the Department of Justice said in a news release.

It wasn't clear why Taylor detonated the bomb on the morning of April 12, 2017, in Kisatchie National Forest, east of Fort Polk, where he was stationed.

After three soldiers conducting a training exercise heard the explosion — and found Taylor filming it with his cell phone — they reported the incident to military police, the release said.

Taylor told one of the soldiers he'd been lighting firecrackers, the Associated Press reported.

A responding investigator collecting samples from the site placed a rock covered in an "unknown substance" in a plastic bag that immediately popped.

"The investigator's plastic gloves and boots began to melt," the release said. "He also began to experience difficulty breathing and his skin started burning."

Law enforcement later found bomb-making notes, remnants of an explosive device and chlorine residue during a search of Taylor's car, apartment and storage building.

An investigator was hospitalized after he inhaled and touched the residue, the release said.

The military's lead investigator, Joshua Farbro, told The American Pressof Lake Charles, Louisiana, last month that the injuries ended his career.

"In one single day I went from being in peak physical fitness to having 20 percent lung capacity at 25 years old," Farbro told the newspaper. "My military career was over and now I'm told that I'm too much of a medical liability to be considered for employment in any capacity. Everything I had worked so hard for, given my all for, was ripped away from me."