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Engineer Derailed Train on Purpose, Said He Suspected Nearby Hospital Ship of Gov’t ‘Takeover’: DOJ

A railroad engineer in Los Angeles is charged criminally after he admitted he derailed his train on purpose. The only thing wilder than the incident is the alleged motive.  Eduardo Moreno, 44, said he caused the crash because he was suspicious of a nearby hospital ship, the U.S.N.S. Mercy, according to The Department of Justice. The defendant faces one charge of train wrecking.

Moreno allegedly ran the train off the tracks at the Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday. A California Highway Patrol officer was nearby and witnessed “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 an affidavit.  The train ended up about 250 yards away from the Mercy, authorities said. No injuries were reported, and the ship was not damaged in any way.

Video from the locomotive cab purportedly showed the train moving very quickly before crashing. In another video, Moreno is holding a lighted flare inside the cab, authorities said.  Flares are normally kept in locomotives in case the crew needs to use them to warn traffic at railroad crossings.

The Mercy was at the Port of Los Angeles to take the pressure off local hospitals during the novel coronavirus outbreak. It accepts non-COVID-19 patients on referrals.

That’s not how Moreno saw it, according to the DOJ’s account.

“You only get this chance once,” he allegedly told the California Highway Patrol officer who witnessed the incident. “The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”

From the DOJ:

In his first interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno acknowledged that he “did it,” saying that he was suspicious of the Mercy and believing it had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover, the affidavit states.

The defendant said his actions were his alone and that he hadn’t planned them ahead of time, authorities said. In a second interview, he told FBI agents that he had wanted to “wake people up” and that he didn’t think the Mercy was “what they say it’s for.”

The DOJ says the charge could result in a 20-year prison term.

[Screengrab via CBS Los Angeles]

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