Police: Portland stabbing suspect went on racist rant night before deadly attack

Jeremy Joseph Christian (KOIN/Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

UPDATES:

12:00 P.M. — The lone surviving victim of a triple stabbing aboard a Portland light-rail train has been released from the hospital.

Micah Fletcher suffered a neck wound Friday after coming to the defense of two young women who were verbally abused by a man before he allegedly stabbed Fletcher and two other men who died. One of the women was wearing a hijab.

Legacy Emanuel Medical Center Julie Reed spokeswoman said Tuesday that the 21-year-old man was discharged.

Fletcher is a local college student and poet.


(ORIGINAL STORY)

PORTLAND, Ore. — The man accused of stabbing three people, two fatally, on a Portland train had previously gone on a racist tirade on a train one night before the deadly attack, police confirm to CBS affiliate KOIN.

Police say 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian is accused of stabbing three men who intervened when he allegedly yelled racial slurs at two young women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, on a Portland light-rail train Friday night.

Two people, 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, were killed in the incident. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland, was also stabbed in the attack and is in serious condition at a Portland hospital, police say. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, police confirm.

Two people were killed and another wounded after intervening when a man started yelling racial slurs at two women at a MAX station, one of whom was wearing a hijab, Portland police say. (KOIN)

KOIN obtained the video, which the station says was recorded by a woman who asked only to be identified as KK. She says Christian was talking on his cellphone and was visibly upset when he got on the train.

“He was pretty upset, squinting his eyes, venting to his friend on the phone about some girl that just pepper-sprayed him,” KK says. “He was complaining about the city, complaining about Muslims, Christians, and it just got very violent very quick.”

KK says she had never heard anyone talk like that on a MAX train before. She felt there was “something really wrong” about his behavior, and said she started recording him on her cellphone about 10 minutes into his rant.

Christian has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday.

Police say they’ll examine what appears to be Christian’s extremist ideology. Christian’s social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence.

Police Sgt. Pete Simpson tells CBS News Christian attended a free speech march in April with a baseball bat to confront protesters but the bat was quickly confiscated by officers.

The Portland Mercury, one of the city’s alternative weeklies, posted an article with video clips of a man wearing a metal chain around his neck and draped in an American flag. “He ranted how he was a nihilist. He’d soon yelled racial slurs … and gave the Nazi salute throughout the day,” the Portland Mercury says.

On what appears to be Christian’s Facebook page he showed sympathy for Nazis and Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Portland spent the holiday weekend memorializing the victims.

Thousands of people gathered at the Hollywood Transit station Saturday night to remember the victims, including the family of victim Meche, a recent Reed College graduate.  His mother, Asha Deliverance, said her son had a heart “as big as the world,” KOIN reports.

“Love is what it’s about,” she says. “We taught him to love everyone and that’s what we should be doing and that’s what we all should be doing and that’s why we are all here, so give it up for love.”

Taliesin Namkai-Meche (Facebook)

 

Deliverance posted on Facebook after the attack saying: “Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, My dear baby boy passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland. He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever.”

A woman at the vigil, Rachel Macy, tells KOIN she had been with Meche in his final moments on the train. “I just didn’t want him to be alone,” Macy says. “I took my shirt off and put it on him. We held it together, I just prayed, all I could do was pray.”

“I told him, ‘You’re a beautiful man. I’m so sorry the world is so cruel,'” Macy says.

Ricky Best (KOIN)

“He said, ‘Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them,'” she says. “He was a beautiful man, that’s what I want people to know.”

Best, a father of four, was an army veteran and City of Portland employee. His family says standing up for strangers was in his character, CBS News’ Mireya Villarreal reports.

Best lived in Happy Valley and had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter, according to David Austin, a spokesperson for City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.

Best worked for the Bureau of Development Services as a technician and ran for a position on the Clackamas County Commission in 2014 after retiring from the U.S. Army in 2012. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan in his 23 years of service.

The mother of one of the girls the victims were defending posted on Facebook thanking them for what they did, KOIN reports.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Dyjuana Hudson wrote. “You will always be our hero.”

Hudson’s teenage daughter was with her Muslim friend when the suspect allegedly started yelling at them.

The third stabbing victim, Fletcher, is a student at Portland State University and was taking the train from classes to his job at a pizza shop when the attack occurred.

Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland, seen in undated photo provided by his family. (KOIN)

In 2013, Fletcher won a 2013 poetry competition, the Verselandia poetry slam, with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

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