The U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation issued the following press release:
ROANOKE, Virginia., Jan. 21 — A Bristol, Tenn. man who held several people hostage at gun point inside the Whytheville, Va. Post Office on Dec. 23, 2009, was indicted today by a Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke.
The grand jury has returned a six-count indictment charging Warren Aubra Taylor, age 53, with one count of attempted murder, three counts of kidnapping, one count of discharging a firearm during the commission of a federal crime, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“This event could have had a violent, unhappy ending,” said Timothy J. Heaphy, United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “Because of the professionalism and skill of federal, state, and local investigators, that outcome was avoided when the hostages were released and Mr. Taylor apprehended without violence. I want to thank all of the officers who put their lives on hold to respond to the Whytheville Post Office and achieve this result. I promise that we will match their professionalism in our pursuit of a just resolution of the criminal charges filed today.”
According to the indictment, Taylor has been charged with one count of attempting to murder Terry Clark, an employee of the United States Postal Service. If convicted, this charge carries a maximum possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Taylor has been charged with three counts of kidnapping for taking Douglas Robinson, James Oliver, and Majorie Austin against their will and holding them for his own purposes, including but not limited to, making known his displeasure with the government and polices of the United States. If convicted, each count carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
In addition, Taylor has been charged with one count of discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. That charge carries a maximum penalty of up to life in prison. There is a mandatory minimum term of 10 years’ imprisonment. He is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted of that charge, and depending on his criminal history, Taylor faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years and possibly a maximum penalty of life in prison.
At the time of the incident, the defendant was found to be in possession of one Glock 40 caliber pistol, one North American Arms .22 caliber revolver, one Taurus .17 caliber revolver and one Taurus .45 caliber Model PT 1911, semi-automatic pistol and ammunition. The United States has included in its indictment a forfeiture count for these and other weapons.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Virginia State Police, the United State’s Marshal’s Service, the Whytheville, Virginia Police Department, and the Whytheville County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Giorno will prosecute the case for the United States.
A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.