You may have heard about this story last year, when it took place near Bellingham, Washington. Samantha Frances Brooks, 24, and Ellen Brennan Reiche, 28, are two far-left activists who were caught placing a shunt on the train tracks. These pieces of wire, which are connected from one side of the track to the other, work in a simple (yet terrifying) manner.
They mimic the electrical signal that is generated when trains pass over the tracks, confusing the automatic control system in the process. These signals are supposed to keep trains from having the chance to crash into one another. This is a stunt that was taking place on a shockingly regular basis last year.
When the aforementioned pair was initially apprehended, over 40 shunts had been placed on train tracks in the Bellingham region. In one shocking instance, a train that was full of hazardous materials was tricked into automatically breaking. The train was separated into two parts once the couplings came apart. Fortunately, a derailment did not take place in a residential area.
Finally, local authorities and a joint terrorism task force (JTTF) were assigned to the case. They did their best to try and figure out who was responsible. At this time, an anonymous letter was sent to It’s Going Down. This pro-Antifa site was urging people to place shunts on the tracks as a means of showing solidarity with Canadian protesters. These citizens were protesting the construction of a pipeline in their country.
At long last, Brooks and Ellen Brennan Reiche were caught in the act. They made the mistake of stepping in front of a game camera. Hot Air has more when it comes to their arrest:
“The camera transmitted a photo showing one person standing on the tracks and what looked like a second person crouched over the tracks. Deputies were sent to investigate and while they were headed to the location a Deputy Chief opened his laptop and witnesses a tracking signal appear and disappear at the location where the individuals had just been seen as if someone were tampering with the tracks. At that point, he contacted the JTTF task force.
When authorities arrived at the location, Brooks and Reiche tried to run for it but stopped after police identified themselves. They claimed they had lost their keys and were looking for them on the tracks. Asked if they had a flashlight or a phone to help them look, Reiche said she’d left her phone in her car nearby. Authorities looked at the car and took a photo of the “Indigenous Land” sticker above on the bumper (see above). Remember, these track shunt actions were originally done in solidarity with indigenous protesters in Canada.
Police found a shunt on the tracks in exactly the location where the photo had been triggered earlier and Reiche was holding a paper bag that contained rubber gloves, a Makita drill with a wire brush attachment and some insulated wire “similar to what had been used in previous shunting incidents.” Authorities noted that in previous incidents the tracks had been scuffed with something like a wire brush to ensure a solid connection to the wire.”
Justice.gov provided more information about their eventual conviction (Brooks will be sentenced next month):
“A 28-year-old Bellingham, Washington woman was convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of violence against a railroad carrier, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Ellen Brennan Reiche was one of two people arrested on the BNSF Railway tracks near Bellingham, near midnight on November 28, 2020. Reiche was convicted of placing a ‘shunt’ – a device that interferes with train signals – on the tracks. The jury deliberated about three hours following the two-day trial. Reiche faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on December 17, 2021…
In her closing argument, Assistant United States Attorney Sok Jiang told the jury, Reiche “disrupted the signal system designed to stop trains from crashing into each other or crashing into cars…. A car driving through the intersection (near the shunt) would not have warning that a train was coming.”