National Briefs

White supremacist faces terror charge after train stopped

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — An armed man believed to have ties to white supremacist groups has been charged with terrorism after he stopped an Amtrak train in Nebraska.

Documents unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Lincoln show 26-year-old Taylor Wilson, of St. Charles, Missouri, is charged with terrorism attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and mass transportation systems.

Wilson was a ticketed passenger on the eastbound California Zephyr with about 175 people aboard, when the train was halted early Oct. 22 in Oxford, Nebraska, about 200 miles southwest of Omaha. The train was headed to Chicago from California.

Wilson had entered a restricted area of the train and enabled the emergency brake in an attempt to derail the train, authorities said.

Passengers sat in darkness for more than an hour after the train suddenly stopped, according to passenger Bobbie Garris.

“We lunged forward in our seats and all the power went out, it went completely black,” Garris said. “We could smell something burning and I’m going to guess that was the brakes.”

Amtrak staff searched the train and discovered Wilson in the engineer’s seat of the follow engine, where he was behaving erratically and playing with the controls. A Furnas County deputy sent to the scene found Amtrak employees holding Wilson, court documents said. Wilson had a loaded revolver, plus more ammunition and a knife, the deputy said.

No injuries were reported.

The court documents show the FBI has evidence of Wilson’s activities with white supremacist groups, including a business card for the National Socialist Movement in Detroit, a neo-Nazi group.

FBI agents searched Wilson’s home in December and found a tactical vest, 15 firearms, ammunition and white supremacy documents and paperwork.

Wilson has been ruled competent to stand trial.

He was arrested Dec. 23 and is now in federal custody.

His attorney, Jerry Sena of Omaha, told The Associated Press on Friday that Wilson planned to plead not guilty to the federal charges.

Judge rejects request for new vote in Virginia House race

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday rejected a request for a new election that might have forced a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, calling ballot mistakes cited by Democrats a “garden-variety” problem that doesn’t merit federal intervention.

Democrats had hoped a new election in the 28th District would provide an opportunity for an even split in the chamber, which is now on track to be controlled by a 51-49 GOP majority.

Democrats cited state election officials who said 147 voters received the wrong ballot before Republican Bob Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by only 73 votes.

It is the second defeat in as many days for Democrats. On Thursday, election officials broke a tie vote in another House district by drawing names from a bowl, and picking the Republican.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Friday that legal precedent bars federal courts from intervening in state elections on the basis of “garden-variety irregularities.” He ruled that the misassignment of a few hundred voters in a district where more than 20,000 people cast ballots does not rise to a level requiring federal intervention.

Ellis also said the errors appear to be innocent, with “no claim of a great claim of a conspiracy to dilute these votes or do anything nefarious.”

Friday’s ruling at U.S. District Court in Alexandria does not end the matter entirely. Ellis did not dismiss the case outright. Instead, he rejected a request for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered a new election.