A train engineer at the Port of Los Angeles is facing federal felony charges for allegedly running a train locomotive at full speed off the end tracks towards the docked hospital ship USNS Mercy, which he suspects is involved in a government conspiracy.
A criminal complaint filed Wednesday afternoon charges the engineer, Eduardo Moreno, 44, with one count of train wrecking following his arrest after the incident Tuesday afternoon.
According to the complaint, Moreno admitted in two separate interviews with law enforcement authorities that he intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the Mercy, which is in port assisting with federal COVID-19 relief.
Moreno ran the train off the end of tracks, and crashed through a series of barriers before coming to rest about 250 yards from the Mercy, according to the Justice Department.
No one was injured and the Mercy was not harmed or damaged in the incident. The Justice Department said a substantial amount of fuel oil was released as result.
A 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,” it said.
In his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno admitted that he “did it,” saying that he was suspicious of the Mercy‘s role related to COVID-19, and believing it was part of a government takeover, the affidavit states.
Moreno also stated that he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack. He said he knew the incident would bring media attention and “people could see for themselves,” according to the affidavit.
In a second interview with FBI agents, Moreno stated that “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up.’“
“Moreno stated that he thought that the U.S.N.S. Mercy was suspicious and did not believe ‘the ship is what they say it’s for,’” according to the affidavit.
The Los Angeles Port Police reviewed video recorded from the locomotive’s cab. One video shows the train clearly moving at a high rate of speed before crashing through various barriers and coming into close proximity to three occupied vehicles. A second video shows Moreno in the cab holding a lit flare.
Moreno was held overnight on local charges, and turned over to FBI agents Wednesday morning.
The train wrecking charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The incident is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port of Los Angeles Police.