Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Va. Post Office Hostage Incident

October 7, 2010

A Tennessee man who took three people hostage at a Virginia post office was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in federal prison.

Warren Aubra Taylor of Bristol, Tenn., pleaded guilty in May to three counts of kidnapping and two weapons counts. Taylor admitted holding a U.S. Postal Service supervisor and two customers hostage for nine hours at the Wytheville post office on Dec. 23, 2009. Taylor surrendered without incident and nobody was injured.

U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said Taylor, 54, resorted to "an act of domestic terrorism" to show his displeasure with the federal government.

"Rather than express his views in a peaceful manner, he chose violence as a form of protest," Heaphy said after the sentencing. "While our laws protect every American's right to express his or her opinions, they also provide for harsh punishment for violent acts."

According to prosecutors, Taylor initially intended to forcibly take over the post office in Roanoke - about 150 miles from his home - but stopped at Wytheville for food and decided to target the post office there.

Taylor, who uses a wheelchair, entered the post office, took a pistol from his lap and fired one errant shot at the postmaster. He then took three hostages and fired his pistol in the direction of police after they surrounded the building.

The only demand Taylor made during the standoff was food. After lengthy negotiations with the FBI, he surrendered.

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