WEST (CBS 11) – The arrest of Bryce Reed and the announcement of a criminal investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion in West were just additional stunning developments for its citizens. “Our whole lives have changed forever; I mean, we’re freaked out anyway,” Crystal LeDane told CBS 11 News.

LeDane claims the community is shocked to know her neighbor of three years had been arrested for having explosives. Their children even played together. “We’re kind of freaked out by all of this,” she says adding, “there’s so many questions that still aren’t answered or might not ever be answered. But it’s just really weird. The timing’s awfully strange.”

But the majority of citizens seem resilient and able to eventually take events in stride. “The irony of the situation is dramatic. You couldn’t write this story,” businesswoman Mimi Irwin says. She related how folks stopping in for morning coffee and kolaches at her bakery — the Village Bakery, the oldest in West — were taken aback by Friday’s events. “It was absolutely shocking. And really stunned people in our community for a second time around.”

Chase Anderson is a lifelong resident of West. But he believes the initial shock will pass. “Sure, there’s people that will have some concerns, but … I mean, not being able to trust your friends and family here in West? That’s not a possibility.” And he repeats a thought many of its citizens express. “Sure, West may be a small community but we’re big at heart.”

Over at Sam’s Barbershop, Sam Pinter agrees. “It’ll be just another thing that goes on,” he says, adding, “They’re going to take it matter-of-factly and we’re going to go on. There’s not going to be no, ‘Oh, I can’t go on, I can’t believe this!’ No, it won’t be that.”

But the Village Bakery’s Irwin is concerned that the community may ultimately experience an emotional beat-down, especially as media seem to stay around. While she recognizes that information from reporters is necessary, “It is so uncomfortable to have it be things that are somewhat unsavory, negative, very confusing to people who have lived in a very quiet town all of their lives.”

And she repeats the question many of her fellow citizens have expressed. “How did this happen to West?”

♦♦♦ Click For Comprehensive Coverage of the West Fertilizer Plant Explosion ♦♦♦

Also Check Out: