Jury hands down indictment in Amtrak incident

Friday, January 19, 2018
Taylor Michael Wilson

LINCOLN, Neb. — A grand jury has returned an indictment against a Missouri man in connection with an incident aboard on Amtrak train near Oxford Oct. 23.

If convicted, Taylor Michael Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Mo., could face up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to five years of supervised release for either of two charges.

The first count charges him with attempting to wreck, derail and disable on-track railroad equipment and a mass transportation vehicle, and the second charges Wilson with acting with an intent to endanger the safety of people aboard the Amtrak train.

Wilson was previously arrested on a criminal complaint. His initial appearance on the indictment will take place before Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart at a time to be determined later.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FBI Special Agent Monte Czaplewski said there was probable cause to believe that electronic devices possessed by Wilson and firearms owned by him “have been used for or obtained in anticipation of engaging in or planning to engage in criminal offenses against the United States.”

 Just before 2 a.m. on Oct. 22, an assistant conductor felt the train braking, searched for what was causing it and found Wilson in the engineer’s seat of the following engine “playing with the controls,” Czaplewski wrote.

The conductor, and others, subdued Wilson, then held him and waited for deputies from Furnas and Harlan counties to arrive in Oxford, 23 miles southwest of Holdrege, where the eastbound California Zephyr with about 175 people aboard stopped.

No injuries were reported.

Czaplewski said Wilson, who has a permit in Missouri to carry a concealed handgun, had a loaded .38-caliber handgun in his waistband, a speed loader in his pocket and a National Socialist Movement business card on him when he was arrested.

He also had a backpack with three more speed loaders, a box of ammunition, a knife, tin snips, scissors and a ventilation mask inside.

Wilson, who was traveling from Sacramento, California, to St. Louis, later was charged in Furnas County with felony criminal mischief and use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.

In late October, a judge ordered Wilson to undergo a competency evaluation at his attorney’s request.

He later was found competent to proceed, according to court records.

His $100,000 bond was posted on Dec. 11 and he was released.

Two days later, according to the federal case, FBI agents searched Wilson’s home in Missouri and found a hidden compartment with a handmade shield, as well as: “a tactical vest, 11 AR-15 (rifle) ammunition magazines with approximately 190 rounds of .223 ammunition, one drum-style ammunition magazine for a rifle, firearms tactical accessories (lights), 100 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, approximately 840 rounds of 5.45x39 rifle ammunition, white supremacy documents and paperwork, several additional handgun and rifle magazines, gunpowder, ammunition-reloading supplies, and a pressure plate.”

Czaplewski said they also found 15 firearms, including a fully-automatic rifle, ammunition and firearms magazines, and a tactical body armor carrier with ceramic ballistic plates.

In the later unsealed federal case, Czaplewski wrote that investigators had found videos and PDF files on Wilson’s phone of a white supremacist banner over a highway, other alt-right postings and documents related to how to kill people.

He said an acquaintance contacted by the FBI said that Wilson had been acting strange since June and had joined an “alt-right” neo-Nazi group that he found while researching white supremacy forums online.

Czaplewski said agents believe Wilson had traveled with members of the group to the Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, where a woman was killed and 19 injured when a man used his vehicle to ram a crowd of counter-protesters.

An informant told the FBI that Wilson has expressed an interest in “killing black people” and others besides whites, and they suspect Wilson was responsible for a road rage incident in April 2016 in St. Charles where a man pointed a gun at a black woman for no apparent reason while driving on Interstate 70, Czaplewski said.

Wilson now is in federal custody. He was arrested Dec. 23, a day after the complaint was filed under seal in federal court in Nebraska.

— The Lincoln Journal-Star contributed to this report.

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