The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is now interrogating a California train engineer who says he was trying to “wake people up” when he drove his train off the rails and attempted to crash into a Navy hospital ship docked in the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon.
Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, has been charged with one count of train wrecking Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Moreno allegedly ran the train off the end off its tracks, crashing through a series of barriers and fences, stopping just 250 yards short of the USNS Mercy, which arrived in the port last week to deliver coronavirus aid.
A California Highway Patrol officer reported seeing the train smash through a concrete barrier at the end of its track, a steel barrier and a chain-link fence, before drifting across a parking lot, a second lot filled with gravel, and another chain-link fence, according to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint. The train nearly hit three occupied cars during the wreck and footage later revealed that Moreno was holding a lighted flare as the train careened toward the ships. No one was hurt.
Moreno tried to flee the scene, according to the DOJ, but the officer caught him. As he was being detained, he said, “You only get one shot at this,” the officer recalled. “The world is watching. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
Moreno was quickly taken into custody by the Los Angeles Port Police and confessed to the crime. The case is now being investigated by both the Port Police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
During interviews, Moreno told both the FBI and local law enforcement that he drove the train off the tracks because he believed the USNS Mercy served some alternative, insidious purpose related to the national coronavirus outbreak and a planned government takeover. The engineer told the FBI that the plan was not pre-meditated and that he acted alone.
“He did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up,’” according to a written statement from the FBI. “Moreno stated that he thought that the USNS Mercy was suspicious and did not believe ‘the ship is what they say it’s for.’”
Moreno is expected to appear in federal court Thursday afternoon. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Cover: In this March 27, 2020, file photo, the USNS Mercy enters the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)