Investigators arrested a California train engineer Tuesday after he allegedly derailed a train in a bid to crash into the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship treating non-COVID-19 patients at the Port of Los Angeles to lessen the burden on area hospitals, prosecutors said.
Eduardo Moreno, 44, was expected to appear in court Wednesday for arraignment on train wrecking charges.
Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, Moreno allegedly ran the train at full speed off the end of the tracks near the Navy medical boat, smashing through several concrete and chain barriers, before sliding through a parking lot nearly 250 yards from the Mercy, according to the criminal complaint.
No one was injured and the boat wasn’t damaged, however, the train leaked a substantial amount of fuel, the complaint said.
A California Highway Patrol officer caught Moreno as he allegedly tried to escape from the scene, according to the complaint. Moreno allegedly told officers and FBI investigators that he deliberately derailed the boat because he was suspicious of the Mercy’s intentions and thought it was actually part of a government takeover, the complaint said.
“Moreno stated that he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. “While admitting to intentionally derailing and crashing the train, he said he knew it would bring media attention and ‘people could see for themselves,’ referring to the Mercy.”
In an interview with FBI agents, Moreno stated that “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up,’” according to the complaint.
Investigators are still reviewing surveillance footage from the scene, including inside the locomotive.