An Amtrak train engineer who called police on Sunday to say he might have been involved in a shooting has been charged with murder in the deaths of two homeless men whose bodies were found on the platform of the Pomona train station, authorities said.
Christopher Matthew Peterson is accused of killing Robert Salinas Jr., 37, and Jeremy Alexander Henness, 31, Pomona police said.
Peterson, 40, was not on duty “before or during the incident,” said Amtrak spokeswoman Olivia Irvin. He last worked two days before the shooting, she said.
He pleaded not guilty Thursday, a district attorney’s spokesman said.
The victims were found early Sunday morning by another homeless man, who went to a nearby business to report what he saw, police said.
When officers responded around 4:30 a.m., they found two men lying on the east edge of the train platform, said Sgt. Brian Hagerty. The victims had been shot multiple times and were pronounced dead at the scene.
The station does not have a kiosk or ticket booth.
While at the station, investigators received a call from Ontario police shortly after 5 a.m. saying they had a man on the line who “thinks he may have been involved in a shooting in Pomona,” Hagerty said. “He said he was a little intoxicated or high, but he might have been involved in a shooting.”
The man turned out to be Peterson, who lives about seven miles from the train station in Ontario with his wife and children. Pomona investigators went to Peterson’s home and, after a brief interview, arrested him, Hagerty said.
Peterson told investigators he acted in self defense but then invoked his right to an attorney, ending the interview, Hagerty said.
“We don’t know if there was some kind of fight,” he said. “We’re still trying to piece it all together.”
Sgt. Jon Edson said detectives found drug paraphernalia next to the victims and are investigating whether the shooting was drug-related.
Investigators plan to conduct tests on a gun found in Peterson’s home, Edson said. The weapon, he said, is registered to Peterson, but police have not found evidence that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Amtrak engineers are not permitted to carry weapons during work, said Irvin, the company spokeswoman. Peterson has been an Amtrak employee since 2010, she said, but “has been removed from service pending further investigation.”
Peterson was charged Tuesday with two counts of murder and is being held without bail, according to online court and jail records.