Wytheville's anti-government hostage-taker pleads guilty
Tennessean faces life imprisonment for Dec. 23 standoff
By Mike Gangloff | The Roanoke Times
An anti-government man from Tennessee who just before Christmas invaded the Wytheville Post Office and took three people hostage pleaded guilty today to federal kidnapping and firearms charges.
Warren A. "Gator" Taylor, 53, faces the possibility of life in prison when he's sentenced later.
Taylor, who's disabled, admitted in U.S. District Court in Roanoke he stopped in Wytheville with four pistols, fired a shot at the postmaster and held the three hostages "for the purpose of ... making known his displeasure with the government and policies of the United States," the U.S. Attorney's Office said today in a statement.
Taylor drove from Sullivan County, Tenn., planning to reach Roanoke and commit some act that would register his discontent with the federal government, he told investigators earlier. But he got tired and stopped in Wytheville for gas and food. Then, according to a statement he gave investigators, he decided to "end it" with an attack on the town's Main Street post office.
Taylor rolled his wheelchair into the post office and started shooting, but injured no one. He took two customers and a postal employee hostage, then demanded pizza as police surrounded the building. About nine hours later, Taylor rolled out of the building and surrendered. His hostages were unhurt.
Tim Heaphy, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, praised law enforcement officers, who he said had prevented what could have been "a much more tragic, violent and unhappy ending" to the drama.
"In this country, we register our grievances with peaceful speech, not violence," Heaphy said today in a statement. "Mr. Taylor did not follow that path. Rather, he endangered the lives of others in a misguided attempt to register his complaints about the national government."
Taylor pleaded guilty to three counts of kidnapping, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Taylor has six prior felony convictions, including the attempted murder of his ex-wife in the parking lot of a department store where she worked in Florida in 1993 and lewd and lascivious behavior with a child.