Engineer arrested after intentionally crashing locomotive at LA Harbor (updated)

Authorities say incident was attempted attack on hospital ship
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PHL_21_Lassen
An engineer has been arrested after derailing this Pacific Harbor Line locomotive, shown in action in February 2017, in an alleged effort to strike the hospital ship USNS Mercy.
TRAINS: David Lassen

LOS ANGELES — In a bizarre incident at the Port of Los Angeles, the engineer of a Pacific Harbor Line locomotive has been arrested on suspicion of train wrecking after he reportedly derailed the locomotive intentionally on Tuesday in an effort to strike the hospital ship USNS Mercy.

The South Bay Daily Breeze reports that Eduardo Moreno, 44, was arrested on Wednesday. The Department of Justice said Moreno admitted in two separate interviews that he had intentionally derailed the locomotive. The incident occurred about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. KTLA-TV reports that after running off the track at high speed, the locomotive crashed through several barriers and nearly hit three occupied vehicles. It finally came to a halt about 250 yards from where the hospital ship is anchored. Photographs show the Motive Power Industries MP20B-3 in a vacant lot well beyond the end of the track. No one was injured in the incident.

A release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office says the incident was witnessed by a California Highway Patrol officer, who arrested Moreno. He was turned over to the L.A. Port Police, who are investigating along with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. In an interview with the Port Police, Moreno said he acted alone and had not pre-planned the incident.

The ship is moored in the harbor to provide extra hospital capacity as the Los Angeles area deals with the COVID-19 virus. It will be used for patients without the virus. Moreno reportedly told police he believed the ship had an alternate purpose, such as a “government takeover,” and wanted to use the incident to draw attention to the ship's purpose.

If convicted, Moreno could face up to 20 years in prison.

— Updated at 7:35 p.m. CDT with additional details.

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