Iowa man accused of interfering with railroad communications

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Federal Railroad Administration Safety Map; Trains Magazine, Steve Sweeney
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Police say a 55-year-old Iowa man interfered with railroad communications by yelling racial slurs and obscenities over a radio channel used by Union Pacific.

Police accuse Randy W. Thompson of Cedar Rapids with threatening violence against a rail and transportation carrier in U.S. District Court earlier this week. He is in jail awaiting a court appearance.

According to court documents and the Cedar Rapids Gazette, between December 2016 and March 2017, Thompson made unauthorized transmissions on railroad channels at least 75 times. Sometimes Thompson would make weird noises or fill the radio channel with dial tones. On other occasions, he would scream about stealing a train from UP. Railroad employees were concerned that Thompson’s disruption would hamper communications resulting in a derailment. U.S. Homeland Security officials were tipped off by Thompson’s actions in March and promptly began to investigate.

With the help of UP radio and communication employees, law enforcement was able to track the transmissions directly to Thompson’s apartment. Police officers obtained search warrants and entered Thompson’s home on two different occasions where they found various pieces of radio equipment.

The day after the second search warrant was executed, Thompson allegedly drove down to the rail yard wearing a helmet and wielding a baseball bat. He threatened at least one railroad employee, declaring “Come and get it if you guys hate me so much. You know who I am, I’m the radio man!”

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