Engineer Intentionally Derails Train Near Hospital Ship USNS Mercy
On Tuesday afternoon, a train engineer allegedly ran a locomotive through a barrier at the end of a track at the Port of Los Angeles in order to promote conspiracy theories about the presence of the hospital ship USNS Mercy. The Mercy is docked at the Port of LA's cruise terminal to provide additional healthcare capacity for the region's medical system during the COVID-19 crisis.
A California Highway Patrol officer who witnessed the incident told investigators that he saw the train hit "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."
The track was located on the other side of a waterway from USNS Mercy's berth, according to a Port of LA spokesperson, and the train came to a stop hundreds of yards away. The ship and its occupants were unharmed and no other injuries were reported. Port operations were not significantly impacted, according to the spokesperson.
The engineer, identified as San Pedro resident Eduardo Moreno, has been charged with one count of train wrecking. When confronted at the scene, Moreno allegedly made a series of statements about his motives, including “The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
According to the Department of Justice, Moreno confessed to the crime in two separate interviews with law enforcement agents after his arrest. “Moreno stated that he thought that the USNS Mercy was suspicious and did not believe 'the ship is what they say it’s for' . . . [and that] he did it out of the desire to 'wake people up,'" FBI investigators asserted in charging documents. Moreno allegedly held the view that Mercy had an "alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover."
If found guilty, Moreno faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.