Neighbors Speak After West Odessa Chemical Scare

by Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

WEST ODESSA - Just after 5p.m. Thursday, authorities were called away from the home at 725 Lodgepole in West Odessa where suspicious chemicals were found around 9a.m. Thursday morning.

Five different law enforcement agencies responded to the call: The Ector County Sheriff's Office, Odessa Police Department Bomb Squad, Texas Rangers, FBI and HazMat.

When NewsWest 9 asked what the call was that tipped them off, authorities said they discovered the chemicals after making a check welfare call at the home.

Officers believed the chemicals that one white male, in his mid-40s, had in his home could be made into a bomb.

But after HazMat swept through the home twice, taking pictures and gathering evidence, they determined there was no criminal activity. "They were able to take some samples of the chemicals we were concerned about inside," Matt Espenshade, with the FBI, said. "Final testing of them showed that they weren't being used in a manner which would indicate that they were being used as an explosive."

Authorities determined that the three different chemicals they found could be used to make a bomb, but that there was no accelerator, as in, no chemical that would react violently with the others causing them to explode.

"They weren't being mixed in a manner that's consistent with the manufacturing of an explosive device," Espenshade said.

After the agencies left, the man in question returned home. He wouldn't go on camera but told NewsWest 9, his name was Kevin Barnett and that he was using acid to clean his tools.

NewsWest 9 knocked on his neighbors' doors, most of them didn't answer or wouldn't go on camera, but they did tell NewsWest 9 they often smell chemicals coming from his trailer.

One neighbor, who would go on camera, described the scene she saw when authorities were evacuating everyone nearby.

"They had blocked all here on Moss and right here on Lodgepole, and we had to be out," neighbor Delfina Garza, said. "It is scary because you don't know what really is happening and why wait? You just gotta think about your life and your family. That's it."

Other neighbors said they had never seen so many authorities surrounding and evacuating their neighborhood before. They're hoping there won't be another reason for it to happen again.

Authorities said the man won't be receiving any criminal charges.

NewsWest 9 also asked multiple times if they could identify what kind of chemicals they were or how much the man had but no one could give us that information.