Wytheville standoff suspect had no beef with post office

Associated Press • Dec 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

WYTHEVILLE, Va. — An official said Thursday that a man accused of taking three hostages in a small-town Virginia post office had no apparent anger toward the postal service, and the suspect apologized in court for disrupting the holidays.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokesman Pete Rendina said he’s still trying to figure out why the Wytheville post office was targeted. But he said the suspect definitely did not have a beef with the office or the postal service in general.

Warren “Gator” Taylor, 53, of Sullivan County, Tenn., was arraigned Thursday on three counts of kidnapping and two firearms charges. Officials said he released the three hostages unharmed and surrendered without incident. Shots were fired but no one was hurt.

“I’m sorry I got everybody out on Christmas,” Taylor said Thursday morning in federal court in Roanoke. He appeared in his wheelchair, wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt, and made no other statements in open court.

Taylor, who is being represented by a federal public defender, was ordered to be evaluated at a federal prison medical facility to determine whether he is mentally fit for the criminal proceedings.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Urbanski set no firm timetable, but said a competency hearing will follow the evaluation, which will likely take place in Butner, N.C.

In court on Thursday, Taylor appeared in a wheelchair wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt. Apart from his apology for disrupting the holidays, Taylor talked to his public defender but made no other statements in open court.

Taylor waived his preliminary hearing and didn’t argue for bail but had his lawyer ask about accommodations for his health conditions. Taylor, who has a prosthetic leg, has diabetes, public defender Kevin Cargill said.

It’s too early in the investigation to speculate about a possible motive, said Kevin Foust, the FBI’s supervisory senior agent in Roanoke.

Each kidnapping charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the firearms charges have mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years each.

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