A man with suspected ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups is expected to plead guilty next month to terrorism-related charges related to an attempt to derail an Amtrak train last October in Nebraska.
Taylor Michael Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri, had been scheduled to stand trial this week in U.S. District Court in Lincoln, Nebraska. However, his trial date was removed from the court calendar when U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart entered an order setting a “change of plea” hearing for July 12.
Wilson previously entered not guilty pleas to charges filed after he allegedly entered a trailing Amtrak locomotive and activated the train’s emergency braking system in an apparent attempt to derail the train. His arrest came two months after he participated with other racists in a violent, landmark demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Authorities have not divulged how many passengers were aboard the Amtrak train, bound from California to Chicago via Omaha, when full-emergency braking was activated near Oxford, Nebraska. No one was injured.
Amtrak employees wrestled with and detained Wilson after he was found in the engineer’s seat of a second unstaffed locomotive. It took a sheriff’s deputy an hour to get to the rural scene.
The suspect had a loaded .38 handgun in his waist band and a fully loaded ammunition speed clip in his pants pocket.
In the suspect’s backpack, authorities found three more ammunition speed loaders, a box of .38 ammunition, a knife, tin snips, scissors, a tape measure and a respirator mask.
When Wilson was booked into jail in Furnas County, Nebraska, officers found two business cards in Wilson’s possession – one from the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization and a second from the Covenant National Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, a white supremacy church based in Oneonta, Alabama.
He initially was arrested on a federal terrorist complaint. Wilson later was indicted on two counts, accusing him of attempting or threatening to wreck, derail and disable a passenger train and attempting to interfere with, disable, or incapacitate any locomotive engineer or railroad conductor operating equipment in interstate commerce.
Court documents don’t say what charge Taylor is expected to plead guilty to at the change of plea hearing. In such circumstances, prosecutors often agree to dismiss one charge or to not file additional charges in exchange for a guilty plea to avoid public costs associated with a trial.
Photo Credit Furnas County Sheriff’s Office