California engineer ran train ‘off the end of rail tracks’ in attempted attack on USNS Mercy in Los Angeles, DOJ says

A California man faces federal charges after officials allege he ran a train “at full speed off the end of rail tracks” near the U.S. Naval Ship Mercy, the 1,000-bed floating hospital that arrived in the Port of Los Angeles last week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro was charged Wednesday with one count of train wrecking after the Tuesday incident, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. Moreno told police he believed the Mercy had “an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover,” according to the DOJ.

Moreno told law enforcement officers he “intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the Mercy.” The train Moreno was conducting crashed through several barriers and came to a rest nearly 250 yards away from the Mercy, according to the DOJ statement. Nobody was injured.

This aerial image taken from video provided by KABC-TV shows a Pacific Harbor Line train that derailed Tuesday at the Port of Los Angeles after running through the end of the track and crashing through barriers, finally coming to rest about 250 yards from the docked U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Mercy.

Moreno told the Los Angeles Port Police he “did it,” according to the Justice Department.

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

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The Justice Department said in its statement that Moreno told the FBI he derailed the train out of a desire to “wake people up.” FBI agents took Moreno into custody Wednesday morning after he was held overnight by local authorities, the department said. 

If convicted, Moreno faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

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