A 26-year-old Missouri man is facing terrorism charges after allegedly trying to derail an Amtrak train as it traveled through Nebraska last October.
News reports say that suspect Taylor Wilson might be a white nationalist after his cousin told the FBI that he attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where the alt-right clashed with counter-protesters. Officials also said that white supremacist materials were found on Wilson’s phone. Federal authorities suspect the man was preparing to launch a large-scale attack when he was apprehended after pulling the emergency brake on Amtrak’s California Zephyr train as it traveled between Sacramento and Chicago in the middle of the night.
There were 175 passengers on board the train when it abruptly stopped after Wilson pulled the emergency brake, reported CBS News.
It took the nearest sheriff’s deputy an hour to get to the scene. Amtrak employees restrained Wilson for an hour until the closest sheriff’s deputy could arrive. Wilson had a handgun, multiple magazines of ammunition, a mask, knife, scissors and a tape measure.
The FBI now believes he may have been planning a larger attack, and is facing terror-related charges for allegedly attempting “to wreck, derail, and disable” the train. Wilson’s cousin told investigators the suspect had expressed an interest in killing black people.
“The indicators are this person was a ticking bomb. We just don’t know in what direction he was going to explode,” said former deputy director of the FBI Ron Hosko. “This easy access to a sensitive area of the train is very troubling.”
“It should be akin to the cockpit of a plane. That there are barriers, there are barricades, there are hardened entryways that only a very few people can have access to whether a key or some other access code,” Hosko said.
Wilson’s cousin told the FBI he attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville where the alt-right clashed with counter-protesters. White supremacist materials were also found on Wilson’s phone.
When officers searched his Missouri home they found a hidden closet with a stockpile of ammunition. His family later turned over a bulletproof vest and 15 firearms belonging to Wilson – one modified to be fully automatic.
Amtrak declined comment on the incident. Wilson’s attorney says his client plans to plead not guilty.