LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A friend of a man accused of derailing a locomotive at full speed near the USNS Mercy hospital ship being used to ease hospital beds during the coronavirus pandemic spoke out Thursday.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” TJ Schlick said. “None of it. None of it makes sense.”
With tears in his eyes, Schlick described his longtime friend, 44-year-old Eduardo “Eddie” Moreno.
“He’s a father, a loving husband, good friend, the guy who would give you the shirt off his back,” Schlick said. “He’s always been there for me.”
Moreno, a train engineer, is accused of derailing his train Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to hit the USNS Mercy hospital ship.
“To tell me he’s going to do something like this that’s going to take him away from his family, it’s just not right,” Schlick said. “Something’s wrong.”
The two have known each other since they were teens working as deck hands on fishing boats. Both would later become captains.
“There’s no way that train was ever going to reach that ship, so to sit here and tell me that he’s going to take that train, even at full speed, and take out a navy ship that’s just unreachable, with knowing how smart Eddie is, that’s just not in his realm,” Schlick said. “To tell me he’s going to do something to hurt a vessel, with Eddie’s love for the ocean and boats, I’m not buying that.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Moreno said he wanted to wake people up. Investigators said he told them he thought the ship was suspicious and was not there to treat patients in an effort to ease the burden on regional hospitals as authorities have said.
“There’s never been talk of any type of conspiracy,” Schlick said. “There’s never been any attitude that anyone’s out to get us.”
A GoFundMe page had been set up to help Moreno’s family, though it has since been removed.
“Eddie is loved by everybody,” Schlick said. “You can’t replace this guy.”
Moreno is due in court Friday. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.