On March 31, 2020 a train engineer at the Port of Los Angeles, CA was arrested on federal charges for allegedly running a locomotive at full speed off the end of rail tracks near the USNS Mercy Navy ship. The ship was in Los Angeles to help Coronavirus patients.
Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro was the train engineer charged. Eduardo faces one count of train wrecking.
According to the criminal complaint filed in United States District Court, Eduardo admitted in two separate interviews with law enforcement authorities that he intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the USNS Mercy Navy ship.
Eduardo ran the train off the end of the tracks and crashed through a series of barriers before coming to rest more than 250 yards from the ship. No one was injured in the incident, and the Mercy ship was not harmed or damaged in anyway. The incident did result in the train leaking a substantial amount of fuel oil, which required clean up by fire and other hazardous materials personnel.
The train crash was witnessed by a California Highway Patrol officer, who took Eduardo into custody as he fled the scene. The Los Angeles Port Police then took custody of Eduardo. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port of Los Angeles Police are now leading the investigation.
The Highway Patrol 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 officer contacted Eduardo, 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.”
In his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno acknowledged that he "did it,” saying that he was suspicious of the Mercy ship and believing it had an alternate purpose related to the Coronavirus or a government takeover.
Eduardo stated that he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack.
The train wrecking charge alleged in the criminal complaint carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.