Update On Oregon Train Stabbings

May 28, 2017
Originally published on May 28, 2017 1:44 pm
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

In Portland on Friday, two men were stabbed to death on a light rail train. According to witnesses, they were intervening to help two women being targeted by an anti-Muslim rant by an aggressive passenger. Their deaths are being mourned this weekend, and police are investigating the background of Jeremy Joseph Christian, the 35-year-old accused of the two men's killing. For the latest on this, we have Molly Solomon of Oregon Public Broadcasting. Molly, what do we know about the events that unfolded on Friday?

MOLLY SOLOMON, BYLINE: Sure. You know, it happened Friday afternoon on a train during rush hour in Portland's southeast neighborhood. Witnesses that were on the train, they're telling police that a man was threatening two teenage girls. One of them is Muslim. The other woman is black. The suspect we now know is Jeremy Christian. He reportedly was yelling racial slurs at these women, and some bystanders on the train, they got up to intervene. Christian then pulled out a knife, and he killed two men on the scene, stabbing a third who is currently in serious condition at the hospital. We did get an update from authorities on the case. Portland police are the lead investigating this, and they're working with the FBI on this right now. But so far, they say it's too soon to label this an act of domestic terrorism. Right now, they're just continuing to investigate.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. We've heard that Jeremy Joseph Christian had expressed support for Nazis and political violence in the past on social media. What do we know about him at this point?

SOLOMON: You know, we're still learning a lot about him, but he's 35, like you said. There are a lot of views expressed on his social media. A lot of his posts are fueled with anti-Muslim rants, anti-Semitic rhetoric. I actually encountered him first at a march just a couple weeks ago. It was a march for free speech that had a lot of Trump supporters and counter-protests that were marching down a street in Portland. He was seen wearing an American flag as a cape and was basically being very disruptive throughout the whole march, using the N-word several times and extending his arm in a hail Hitler salute. He does have a history of arrests with the Portland police. They plan to arraign him in court on Tuesday, but they haven't mentioned whether or not they believe he is a white supremacist or is a known white supremacist among Portland police authorities.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what do we know about the two men who in the accounts we've heard were just trying to be good Samaritans and who were killed because of that?

SOLOMON: Yes. The two men who were killed, they were identified by the police yesterday. One of them is 53-year-old Rick Best. He's a 20-year U.S. Army veteran, city of Portland employee. There's also a younger man who died, 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche. He actually just recently graduated from Reed College in Portland and was just starting his career in economics. Micah David-Cole Fletcher - he is also a Portland State student. He was stabbed during the attack but is expected to survive. And I went ahead and went to one vigil yesterday that was held for the victims, and it was very emotional. There were families there - they were people that knew these men - friends that were remembering them, just community members, people that lived nearby the train station had come by to either bring flowers, light candles, say a couple words. And I think the community was just trying to come together to heal after this really tragic event.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Molly Solomon of Oregon Public Broadcasting, thanks so much.

SOLOMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.