Written by William Hekman
A former locomotive engineer is set to plead guilty to federal terrorism charges for intentionally driving a train at full speed off the tracks near the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy back on March 31, 2020. The man claimed that the vessel was at the Port of Los Angeles as some form of conspiracy or “government takeover”.
The individual, 45-year-old Eduardo Moreno of San Pedro plead guilty to, “ terrorist attacks and other violence against railroad carriers and mass transportation systems”. The charge carries a 20 year prison sentence with lifetime supervision upon release. But according to the plea agreement, the government is only pursuing a six and a half year sentence with restitution to be paid to Pacific Harbor Line in the amount of $700,000. No one was hurt in the crash but hazardous materials did leak which required a massive clean-up.
According to the FBI, Moreno ran the train off the tracks in order to “ wake people up” because he claimed that the Mercy was “suspicious” and that the ship was in port for another purpose related to COVID-19. California Highway Patrol who were on scene said they saw 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”. Moreno attempted to flee but was caught and placed into custody. He began spouting off statements such as, “the world is watching” and “people don’t know what’s going on here”. Moreno says he acted alone and while he had not pre-planned the attack, he admitted to intentionally derailing and crashing the train.
The Mercy, a San Diego-based ship, had been docked in Los Angeles as a makeshift hospital. The ship had 1,000 beds used for relief during the early stages of the COVID pandemic when many feared that hospitals would be overrun.
Photo Cred: US Navy