Prosecutors: Engineer Tried to Crash Train Into USNS Mercy in Los Angeles

A locomotive engineer who worked at the Port of Los Angeles was arrested and charged this week after he allegedly intentionally derailed a train at full speed near the U.S. Naval Ship Mercy because he was suspicious about its true purpose.

According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, California, allegedly accelerated the train at the Port of Los Angeles and ran it off the tracks, crashing it through a series of barriers before it came to a rest about 250 yards away from the Mercy in an incident that was captured on video.

While no one was hurt in the incident, however, the train did leak fuel oil, which required cleanup by firefighters and hazardous materials personnel.

A California Highway Patrol officer who happened to be nearby 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 found Moreno, the suspect told him that "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."

Prosecutors say Moreno intentionally wrecked the train because he'd become suspicious of the Mercy, believing it to have another, more nefarious purpose, either related to COVID-19, or some kind of government takeover.

According to the affidavit, Moreno said he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack. His goal was to bring media attention to the Mercy and that "people could see for themselves."

In an interview with FBI agents, Moreno said he intentionally wrecked the train out of a desire to "wake people up" and that he did not believe that the "ship is what they say it's for."

Video of the crash was captured by the locomotive's cab, with one video showing the train moving at a high rate of speed before crashing through the barriers and resting near several occupied vehicles.

A second video shows Moreno in the cab of the locomotive holding a lighted flare.

Officials charged Moreno with a little-used train-wrecking charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in a federal prison.

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