A train engineer told police in Los Angeles that he intentionally crashed his locomotive at high speed near the USNS Mercy hospital ship in what appears to be a deranged attempt to expose a coronavirus conspiracy theory.
California Highway Patrol officer Dillon Eckerfield described watching “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.”
The locomotive came to a stop just 800 feet short of the USNS Mercy, the Navy medical ship providing relief to hospitals overburdened with coronavirus patients. The ship was not harmed during the attempted attack, and no injuries were reported.
Eduardo Moreno said he doesn’t believe “the ship is what they say it’s for,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
“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,” Moreno said.
Moreno attempted to flee the scene after the crash, only to be taken into custody by the highway patrol officer.
The attorney’s office says that video footage recorded from inside the locomotive shows that at the time of the crash shows Moreno inside the cab holding a lighted flare.
Admitting to driving the train off its rails and toward the water, Moreno said that “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up.”
He believed “it had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover,” prosecutors said.
Moreno told detectives he had been “putting the pieces together” and that he no longer believed “the ship is what they say it’s for.” He believed “they are segregating us, and it needs to be put in the open,” according to the affidavit.
A train engineer at the Port of LA is in custody after intentionally derailing a train with the intent of hitting the USNS Mercy, according to officials. The Mercy is docked at the Port of LA to assist local hospitals with non #COVIDー19 patients.
— CBSLA Assignment Desk (@KCBSKCALDesk) April 2, 2020
Moreno now faces a federal charge of one count of train wrecking which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The derailment caused a “substantial fuel leak” handled by firefighters, prosecutors said.
Eckerfield pulled a U-turn, speeding in the direction of the spectacular train wreck, according to an FBI affidavit describing the incident. As he approached, he could see a man in a bright yellow fluorescent vest jump down from the train’s cab and start running. He was easy to follow. Eckerfield sped into the West Basin Container Terminal, an enormous ship cargo yard, and found the man in the yellow vest walking toward him. Eckerfield drew his weapon and ordered the man onto the ground.