A card-carrying neo-Nazi claims he was was on a mission to “save” an Amtrak train from Black folks when he triggered the locomotive’s emergency brakes, sparking panic aboard the Chicago-bound train. On Friday, a judge sentenced him to 14 years in federal prison.
Taylor Michael Wilson of St. Charles, Missouri, was sentenced in a Lincoln, Neb., federal court months after pleading guilty to a single count of terrorism and a weapons charge stemming from the Oct. 23, 2017, train incident in southern Nebraska. In exchange, all other charges were dismissed.
Wilson, 26, was one of 175 passengers aboard an Amtrak train traveling from California to Illinois when prosecutors say he broke into a restricted area and started tinkering with the controls, ultimately cutting the lights to the train and triggering the brakes. Authorities said the Missouri man was found armed with a handgun, a “speed loader” in his pocket, a knife and ammunition, along with a business card for a well-known neo-Nazi organization.
The incident reportedly unfolded after Wilson exchanged words with a Black passenger. When Wilson was found at the controls he hurled racial slurs at conductors who managed to hold him down until authorities arrived, according to court documents.
Other filings unsealed earlier this year revealed there was probable cause to believe the cache of weapons investigators found stashed at Wilson’s St. Charles home “have been used for [or] obtained in anticipation of engaging in [or] planning to engage in criminal offenses against the U.S.” Inside, they also found PDF files on Wilson’s phone of a white supremacist banner and character witnesses said Wilson previously expressed interest in “killing Black people.”
Moreover, an investigator testified in court that when asked why he stopped the train, Wilson responded that he was “going to save the train from the Black people.”
The suspect claimed he was high on drugs at the time, however, and “never had the intention of hurting anyone.”
“I did not have any hate or ill-will toward anyone on the train,” Wilson said at Friday’s sentencing, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Prosecutors argued otherwise, citing the young man’s membership in a neo-Nazi group and his participation in last summer’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. Video stills posted to social media over the weekend show Wilson marching alongside James Alex Fields Jr., the neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Taylor Wilson, the man who just pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years for an act of terrorism against an Amtrak train, is seen here in the same frame as James Fields, the Charlottesville attacker. pic.twitter.com/cbHwmzPmTb
— Emily of the State (@EmilyGorcenski) October 7, 2018
District Judge John Gerrard agreed that Wilson was a danger to society and, while handing down his sentence, dubbed him “a gun-toting, angry … white supremacist.”