A man who hijacked an Amtrak passenger train near Beaver City a year ago will spend 14 years in prison for the crime, according to the sentence issued Friday in U.S. District Court.
The armed hijacker was subdued by heroic train conductors, who held him until the sheriff arrived.
Taylor Michael Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Mo., boarded the Amtrak train in California on Oct. 19, 2017 and rode it into Nebraska. As the train neared Furnas County, he broke into the engine compartment. He was armed with a concealed .380 caliber handgun, U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly said.
Wilson cut the lights to the passenger compartment and brought the train to a screeching halt in the remote area. Some of the passengers tried to get out through windows as word spread.
The conductors immediately went to the engine compartment and confronted Wilson. Several of them worked together to subdue him, despite his claim that he was now the conductor of the train and was “trying to save the train from black people,” Kelly said.
The conductors restrained Wilson until the sheriff and deputies arrived. They confiscated his gun and took him into custody.
Wilson was carrying calling cards of the National Socialist Movement, one of which read, “Conquer we must, for our cause is just!”
A search of his home in Missouri turned up the unregistered short barrel rifle, as well as a copy of Mein Kampf and a play Wilson wrote about taking over America.
At sentencing, Kelly said the government also produced evidence that Wilson participated in the deadly riots at Charlottesville, Va. earlier that year, on Aug. 11-12. The Unite the Right rally sought to bring together several white supremacist groups and sparked passionate counter-protests.
On Aug. 12, a self-identified white supremacist rammed his car into a group of counter protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 others. He now faces hate crime charges.
Wilson was convicted of violence against a transportation system and possession of an unregistered short barrel rifle. He pled guilty to the charges on July 12.
In addition to the prison term, he will make restitution to Amtrak in the amount of $9,350 for damages to the train.
There is no parole in the federal system. After Wilson’s release from prison, he will be supervised for another five years.
When Gerrard handed down the sentence, he told Wilson that he was “a gun-toting, angry…white supremacist” the day he stopped the train.
Gerrard told the courtroom, “Fortunately for Wilson and for others, Wilson was caught while committing this particularly senseless and violent act.”
Kelly said the sentence sends an important message that racially motivated crimes will not be tolerated. He commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Furnas and Harlan County Sheriff’s Offices and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Woods for their work.
FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Randall Thysse said, “The FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to keep our country and its people safe. This is the perfect example of what a unified partnership between different agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office should look like.”
For more info on the Charlottesville riots, click HERE.