According to witnesses of the attack, a white man riding an eastbound MAX train in Portland early Friday afternoon began yelling what “would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” police said. Some of the slurs were directed at two female passengers, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said. At least two men tried to calm the man down, but “they were attacked viciously by the suspect,” Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said at a news conference Friday evening.
“It appears preliminarily that the victims — at least a couple of them — were trying to intervene in his behavior, deescalate him and protect some other people on the train when [the suspect] viciously attacked them,” Simpson said.
The two men killed in the attack were Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23. A third victim, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, is being treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police arrested Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of north Portland. Local media reports described Christian as a “known white supremacist” in the area, and his Facebook page showed a long history of racist and extremist views.
Amy B Wang contributed to this report.