Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Nebraska’

Man Who Halted CZ Charged with Terrorism

January 9, 2018

A Missouri man who last October got into an Amtrak locomotive and activated the emergency brakes of the California Zephyr in Nebraska, has been charged by the FBI with terrorism.

During a court hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska, federal officials said that Taylor Michael Wilson is a white supremacist he reportedly was seeking to “kill black people.”

Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri, was armed when he halted the eastbound Zephyr in Furnas County, Nebraska.

The incident occurred just after 2 a.m. After the train stopped near Oxford, Nebraska, an Amtrak conductor went to investigate and found Wilson seated in the engineer’s seat of the trailing P42DC locomotive “playing with the controls.”

An affidavit from Amtrak personnel introduced into court records said that  as Amtrak personnel attempted to physically subdue Wilson he reached toward his front waistband and yelled “What are you going to do, shoot me?”

After restraining Wilson, Amtrak personnel called the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office for help.

Wilson has been charged with terrorist attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and mass transportation systems.

FBI Special Agent Monte Czaplewski said there was probable cause to believe that electronic devices possessed by Wilson and firearms owned by him “have been used for or obtained in anticipation of engaging in or planning to engage in criminal offenses against the United States.”

The FBI found a stockpile of assault rifles, ammunition and white supremacist literature during a search of Wilson’s home.

Authorities also believe that Wilson might also be connected with two alleged hate crimes in the St. Louis area last year.

The FBI said that an acquaintance of Wilson had alerted them to the fact that he had been acting strangely since June and had joined a neo-Nazi group.

Wilson held a Missouri permit to carry a concealed handgun. Aboard the Amtrak train he was found to have a loaded .38-caliber handgun in his waistband, a speed loader in his pockets and National Socialist Movement business card on him.

In his backpack were three more speed loaders, a box of ammunition, a knife, scissors and a ventilation mask.

A Nebraska judge in late October ordered Wilson to undergo a competency evaluation that found him competent to stand trial.

He was released on Dec. 11 on a $100,000 bond. Two days later the FBI searched his Missouri home.

Wilson has been in federal custody since being arrested on December 23.

Man Competent to Stand Trial in Zephyr Incident

December 12, 2017

A court has found a man charged with pulling an emergency brake on Amtrak’s California Zephyr competent to stand trial.

Taylor Wilson, 25, faces trial on charges of using a weapon to commit a felony and criminal mischief.

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing, so his case is headed to trail in a Nebraska district court.

Wilson was said by police to be carrying a loaded revolver in his waistband and a speed loader in his pocket.

He allegedly activated the brakes as the train was preparing to stop in Holdrege, Nebraska.

Police said Wilson got into the trailing P42DC locomotive and pulled the brakes as the train passed through Furnas County.

Wilson was also said to have with him a box of ammunition a knife, tin snips, scissors, a ventilation mask and three more speed loaders.

Missouri Man Due in Court Monday in Connection With Stopping California Zephyr in Nebraska

October 27, 2017

A Missouri who got into the trailing locomotive of the eastbound California Zephyr last weekend faces a preliminary hearing on Monday in a Nebraska courtroom.

Taylor M. Wilson, 25, of St. Charles, Missouri, is due in court in Furnas County, Nebraska.

He is facing charges of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, felony criminal mischief, and trespassing.

Bond was set at 10 percent of $25,000 and a judge has appointed a local attorney to represent Wilson.

Armed with a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, Wilson is alleged to have engaged an emergency brake, causing train No. 6 to stop.

Police said that when he was arrested, Wilson also had in his possession a speed loader in his pocket and two bags containing three speed loaders, a box of ammo for the revolver, a knife, tin snips, scissors and a ventilation mask.

No. 6 was nearing its scheduled station stop in Holdrege, Nebraska, when the incident occurred early on the morning of Oct. 21.

“We lunged forward in our seats and all the power went out, it went completely black in the train car and the emergency lighting came on which is just at your feet and it’s really sparse so we couldn’t see anything and we could smell something burning and I’m going to guess that was the brakes,” said passenger Bobbie Garris.

Garris said passengers sat in quiet darkness for over an hour. During that time, Amtrak staff rushed past toward the head end. They never explained what was happening.

Authorities are still unsure as to what Wilson’s plan was.

Amtrak released a statement saying, “The circumstances of the incident are under active criminal investigation at this time. Amtrak is working with law enforcement in Nebraska and will continue to cooperate fully in the investigation.”

A Surprise the Next Morning

October 13, 2016

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I had booked a room aboard Amtrak train No. 5 to Denver on the second leg of an ambitious journey by Amtrak that would see me traveling nearly coast to coast by rail.

I left Chicago Union Station in late afternoon on Oct. 24, 1981, aboard what was then the San Francisco Zephyr. It was not my first trip aboard Amtrak’s new Superliner equipment, but would be my first time traveling in a Superliner sleeper.

Most of the initial trip out of Chicago occurred during darkness and I don’t remember seeing much, if anything in Iowa. My dominant memory of this trip is how comfortable and cozy I felt inside my room aboard the train.

Somewhere in Nebraska the next morning I was surprised to look out my window and see that the ground was covered with snow.

I grabbed my camera, went to a vestibule door, opened the window and made this image.

If you did that today Amtrak personnel would let you know that it is not allowed. Maybe they felt that way then, too, but I just opened the window long to get the image and go back to my room.

The original slide of this image has badly faded, but the wizardry of digital scanning combined with Photoshop enabled me to bring it back to life.

My recollection is that the original slide was overexposed, so this is as good as it could be.

There is something about this image that makes it one of favorites from this era. The red, white and silver of the two F40PH locomotives leading the train add a touch of color to an otherwise barren and white landscape.

I also like how the tracks snake through the snow, lending a sense of going somewhere.

It was the Burlington Northern back then and under BNSF ownership today these tracks probably are still busy.

By the time we reached Denver, the snow was gone and I would not see any more of it during my trip. It must have been a fairly localized storm.