Prosecutors say a train derailment in San Pedro near the Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday was an intentional attempt to either sink the hospital ship USNS Mercy—which the U.S. military deployed to the region as part of relief efforts—or just crash somewhere near it.
Not that it was a very good attempt. According to a Department of Justice press release, train engineer Eduardo Moreno derailed the freight train he was driving by smashing through concrete and steel barriers at the dead-end of a line but the suspect failed to come within 250 yards (around two and a half football fields) of the vessel. No injuries were reported and the Mercy was not affected, though Moreno is facing federal charges of train wrecking.
According to the DOJ, Moreno told a responding California Highway Patrol officer that he believed the Mercy was part of some kind of conspiracy, though he was vague on what exactly that conspiracy was, as well as the ship’s role in it. (However, one could reasonably hazard a guess that it involves QAnon.)
“You only get this chance once,” Moreno said following the incident. “The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
The DOJ wrote that in an interview with the Los Angeles Port Police, Moreno admitted he “did it.” FBI agents wrote in an affidavit that in a subsequent interview, Moreno claimed “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up’” and “that he thought that the U.S.N.S. Mercy was suspicious and did not believe ‘the ship is what they say it’s for.’”
Per the Washington Post, Moreno told investigators the idea just sort of popped up in his head.
“I don’t know. Sometimes you just get a little snap and man, it was fricking exciting,” Moreno allegedly said. “I just had it and I was committed. I just went for it. I had one chance.”
CNN reported that police have also obtained video taken inside the train of Moreno igniting a flare, putting the train at full speed, and flipping the bird at the camera. While Moreno ultimately failed to do any damage to the Mercy, the train did leak oil that burst into flames, and the affidavit alleges that he endangered the passengers of at least three vehicles. Moreno reportedly told detectives, “I can’t wait to see the video.”
Anacostia Rail Holdings, the operator of Moreno’s employer Pacific Harbor Line, told the Post via spokesperson Stefan Friedman that Moreno was only pulling a single rail car at the time of the incident, adding “The engineer of the train has been arrested and charged, and we are fully cooperating with all authorities as they proceed with their investigation.”
Moreno faces a maximum 20 years in federal prison if convicted.