A train engineer employed by the Port of Los Angeles intentionally “ran a locomotive at full speed off of the end of the railroad tracks” in an attempt to derail it into the USNS Mercy Navy hospital ship Tuesday afternoon. Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro was arrested Wednesday morning by federal authorities on one count of train wrecking.
“[O]n his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno claimed he did it because he was suspicious of the Mercy and believed “it had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover.”
In a second interview with FBI agents, according to the Department of Justice, Moreno stated that “he did it out of the desire to wake people up,” and that the ship was suspicious “and did not believe the ship is what they say it’s for.”
After running off the tracks, the locomotive crashed through numerous barriers and came within 250 yards of the ship. Fortunately no one was hurt and the ship was not damaged in any way, but the locomotive leaked “a substantial amount of fuel oil, which required cleanup by fire crews and hazmat personnel, according to authorities.” Video of the incident shows Moreno in the cab, holding a lighted flare.
Moreno then attempted to flee the scene, but a California Highway Patrol officer who’d seen the crash caught and arrested him. According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office:
The CHP officer who witnessed the crash reported seeing “the train smash into a concrete barrier at the end of the track, smash into a steel barrier, smash into a chain-link fence, slide through a parking lot, slide across another lot filled with gravel, and smash into a second chain-link fence,” according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint. When the CHP officer contacted Moreno, he made a series of spontaneous statements, including, “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
The Port of Los Angeles Police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force are leading the investigation.