The horrific scene unfolded on a crowded Portland, Or., public transit train in less than 10 minutes between stops at the start of a long holiday weekend, The Oregonian reports. A known extremist terrorized a teenage girl wearing a hijab and her friend, then turned his rage on an Army veteran, a recent Reed College graduate, and an aspiring poet who tried to calm him down. Police say Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, cut all three men in the neck, leaving two dead and another injured from knife wounds. The rampage stunned city leaders and left friends and strangers mourning the loss of two lives, applauding the selfless acts of heroes and condemning the racist vitriol that preceded the violence.
Rick Best, 53, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, intervened Friday when Christian, a man known to police for his hate speech and extremist views, launched a slur-filled diatribe at the girl wearing a hijab and her friend after he boarded the train. The three men tried to talk Christian down as they rode the train. Best, a city technician and a 23-year retired Army veteran, died on the train as Christian fled. Namkai-Meche died a later at a hospital. Fletcher was hospitalized. He was on his way to his job at a pizza shop when Christian started yelling at the girls, and he attempted to come to their aid. His jaw was broken and neck punctured, and surgeons had to remove bone shards from his throat. Christian was eventually captured. The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the killings and called on President Trump to denounce growing bigotry in the wake of the stabbings. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler singled out “our current political climate” that he said “allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry. Violent words can lead to violent acts.” (Yesterday, Wheeler urged cancellation of a “Trump Free Speech Rally” and similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after the stabbing, the Associated Press reports.)