Last month, agents raiding the St. Charles home of an accused Amtrak hijacker found something alarming: fifteen firearms, including automatic weapons. They also found more than 800 rounds of ammunition — and evidence of ties to white supremacy.
In fact, Taylor Michael Wilson, now 26, allegedly told friends that he had an interest in "'killing black people' and others besides whites, especially during the protests in St. Louis." A witness told agents that Wilson had traveled to Charlottesville for the infamous neo-Nazi rally in August that left one woman dead. And federal agents say that Wilson may be responsible for a 2016 road rage incident on I-70 in which he terrorized a black woman.
All those details are in federal court files in Nebraska, unsealed for the first time yesterday. Wilson is facing a federal charge of terrorism attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and against mass transportation systems.
In the documents, federal prosecutors say that Wilson was apprehended while traveling from Sacramento to St. Louis via Amtrak on October 22 after an assistant conductor noticed the train braking — and found Wilson in a restricted area, "playing with the controls."
"I'm the conductor, bitch," he allegedly told the Amtrak crew members who rushed in.
The crew fought him into submission, and the train was stopped in Oxford, Nebraska, for about an hour until federal agents could take Wilson into custody.
Wilson behaved erratically, the agents would later write. Noticing a bulge in his front left pocket, a deputy asked him, "What is this?” Wilson allegedly replied, "My dick." The deputy located a loaded speedloader with .38 bullets, as well as a fully loaded 38 caliber handgun in his front waistband. Wilson also had a business card for the National Socialist Movement.
And that's not all. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, "He also had a backpack with three more speed loaders, a box of ammunition, a knife, tin snips, scissors and a ventilation mask inside."
They found much, much more when they raided Wilson's home in St. Charles just before Christmas. Among their findings, according to an affidavit filed by Special Agent Monte R. Czaplewski: "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."
The cache included fifteen firearms, including a fully-automatic rifle and ammunition and "a tactical body armor carrier with ceramic ballistic plates." Oh yeah — and alt-right postings and "documents on how to kill people."
While Wilson had a valid concealed handgun permit in Missouri, guns aren't allowed on Amtrak trains. And beyond that, agents would discover that Wilson had been a suspect in a road rage incident in St. Charles in April 2016.
According to an affidavit later filed by agent Czaplewski summarizing his investigation of the Nebraska case,
According to the St. Charles police report, the victim, a black female, stated a white male in a Green SUV pointed a handgun at her while driving eastbound on Interstate 70 for no apparent reason.Wilson, the federal agent wrote, had "inexplicably tried to turn himself into police custody by contacting park rangers at Kiwanis Park in St. Charles, but would not state the reason." The department put together a photo lineup that included Wilson, but said it was then unable to locate the victim. The case moved to "inactive" — and, apparently, didn't affect Wilson's conceal-carry permit.
The victim told police the vehicle, a green SUV bore license plate AH3K5M. The plate was then traced back to Taylor Wilson.
Now 26, Wilson was charged on December 22 with one count of "terrorism attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and mass transportation systems." He has been found competent to participate in court proceedings.
The newly unsealed case file includes documents related to a search warrant executed on Wilson's home in St. Charles on December 21, where agents found the cache of firearms carefully concealed in a special compartment behind the refrigerator.
In the affidavit, agent Czaplewski wrote that he spoke to Wilson's parents. They claimed that "they had never known their son to be involved with drugs or the white supremacist movement." They also allegedly told the agent they didn't know where their son lived — although the agent later traced his residence to a home they owned. Czaplewski also alleges that Wilson's father seemed fully aware of the secret compartment where his son had stored the weapons.
The couple told agents "that they would not discuss any discussions they had with Taylor Wilson regarding race relations," the affidavit notes.
Other informants were more forthcoming. According to the affidavit, one confidential witness alleged that Wilson had met up with white supremacists after finding their group online — and even traveled to Charlottesville for August's March.
"Wilson made statements that [the witness] interpreted as Wilson representing ... that Wilson and his white supremacist group were the ones who put up some 'Whites Only' signs in businesses at an unknown location and [the witness] believes Wilson is serious about killing black people," the agent wrote, detailing Wilson's dangerous interest in the protests in St. Louis.
Wilson also allegedly told the unnamed witness about an incident on the highway that appears to match the 2016 road rage incident investigated by St. Charles police, the agent wrote.
The Charlottesville march drew a number of other St. Louis area residents, including a Ladue Horton Watkins High School grad, a Saint Louis University student and a trainer at a local gym, who has since been fired.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story referred imprecisely to Wilson's journey. He was traveling from Sacramento to St. Louis via Amtrak; he was not on a train going directly from one point to the other. We regret the error.
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