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Train conductor accused of deliberately derailing train, trying to use it to attack USNS Mercy

LOS ANGELES – A train engineer faces federal charges after he allegedly admitted to intentionally derailing a train Tuesday near the USNS Mercy, a ship sent to Los Angeles to ease the burden of hospitals treating coronavirus patients, according to the Department of Justice.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, told law enforcement investigators he was "suspicious" of the ship and believed it "had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover," the Justice Department said in a news release, citing the affidavit.

Moreno has been charged with one count of train wrecking, the Justice Department said.

The federal public defender's office in Los Angeles, which is representing Moreno, declined to comment on the case.

According to the Justice Department, Moreno, a train engineer at the Port of Los Angeles, crashed the train at the end of the tracks, running through barriers before it came to rest more than 250 yards away from the ship. No one was injured, the news release said, and the ship was not damaged.

The crash was witnessed by a California Highway Patrol officer, who took Moreno into custody as he tried to flee the scene, the news release added.

According to the affidavit obtained by CNN, Moreno confessed to crashing the train in interviews with both the Los Angeles Port Police and the FBI.

Moreno said he derailed the train because it would bring media attention, the affidavit said, and he hoped to "wake people up."

The affidavit also detailed videos taken from inside the train. In one, Moreno ignites a road flare inside the train, the affidavit said. He then "put the train in full speed and held his hand toward the camera with his middle finger raised."

“I don’t know. Sometimes you just get a little snap and man, it was fricking exciting... I just had it and I was committed,” Moreno told police, according to the affidavit. “I just went for it, I had one chance.”