A neo-Nazi accused of attempting to derail an Amtrak train is expected to abandon his not guilty plea, his lawyer says.
Taylor Wilson, 26, is accused of boarding a cross-country Amtrak train with a backpack full of guns and wirecutters in October 2017 before he pulled the emergency brake in Nebraska and burst into the engine room where employees witnessed him “playing with the controls.” Wilson was initially arrested on a terror charge for the alleged derailment attempt, and later indicted on two charges for attempting to wreck a passenger train and attempting to disable the conductor.
“We filed a motion to change plea, which means in all likelihood the case is not going to trial,” Wilson’s lawyer Jerry Sena told The Daily Beast. Sena and the Nebraska Attorney General’s office are working on a plea deal, which will allow Wilson to face a lesser set of charges.
“Once one is agreed upon, he will most likely be pleading guilty to amended charges,” Sena said.
A guilty plea would keep Wilson’s case out of the courtroom. But he brought a mountain of evidence onto the train with him, according to a criminal complaint.
Wilson, a Missouri man who lives with his parents, boarded a cross-country Amtrak train in October with a backpack full of weapons and a plan to run the train off the tracks. While passing through rural Nebraska, Wilson allegedly pulled the train’s emergency brake, leaving it stranded on the tracks at 2 a.m.
While Amtrak staff swept the train, Wilson allegedly burst into the control room and took a place in the engineer’s seat, where a staffer found him “playing with the controls.”
“What are you going to do, shoot me?” Wilson allegedly asked the Amtrak staff who confronted him. “I’m the conductor, bitch.”
Amtrak staff pinned Wilson to the floor, while Wilson reached for the waistband of his pants, according to the criminal complaint. Police took more than an hour to respond to the rural scene. When deputies searched Wilson, he attempted to claim a bulge in his pocket was “my dick,” according to a criminal complaint. The bulge was actually one of two fully loaded guns Wilson was carrying on him, one of which was in the waistband he’d allegedly attempted to reach during the struggle.
He also had a backpack with three more loaded guns, a box of bullets, a hammer, a knife, wirecutters, a tape measure, a construction-style respirator mask, and two business cards. One of the cards advertised an Alabama church with the motto “Conquer we must, for our cause is just!” The other card was for the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group.
One of Wilson’s associates told investigators that Wilson had been acting strangely since at least June, after joining an "’alt right’ Neo-Nazi group that he had found researching white supremacy forums online,” according to the criminal complaint. The associate told police that Wilson had expressed an interest in “killing black people” and had claimed to have been part of a group that pasted “Whites Only” signs in local businesses.
In August 2017, Wilson had marched at Unite the Right, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A search of Wilson’s phone revealed a picture of a white supremacist banner with the text “‘Hands up don’t shoot’ is Anti-white fake news – Altright”. Wilson’s phone also contained PDFs of texts including “The Anarchist’s Cookbook,” which describes how to make homemade explosives, and “The Ultimate Sniper” which schools readers on military marksmanship. A search of his home found white supremacist literature, tactical vests, and a huge stockpile of ammunition in a hidden vault.
Wilson was also involved in a road rage incident in May 2016, during which he allegedly pulled a gun on a black woman, according to the criminal complaint.
Before his ties to neo-Nazi groups became public, Wilson appeared worried those ties would emerge in the media. During a recorded phone call shortly after his arrest, Wilson asked his mother to read from an article on the attempted train derailment.
The article detailed the weapons Wilson had in his bag, but not his political affiliations.
“That’s it?” Wilson asked his mother, according to a transcript included in the criminal complaint.
“You know this call is being recorded,” his mother scolded him.
“Yeah,” Wilson replied. “I know.””