Portland OR May 27 2017
UPDATE: Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder early Saturday morning, records show. He's being held without bail.
A Portland police spokesman didn't immediately return an email seeking information about whether Christian is the suspect in the fatal MAX stabbing.
Christian was also arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor charges, according to records.
His criminal record includes felony robbery, kidnapping and weapon convictions, records show.
Two men were killed in a stabbing on a MAX train Friday when they tried to intervene as another man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab, police said.
A third passenger who tried to help was also stabbed, but is expected to survive, said Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.
Officers arrested the suspect as he ran from the Hollywood transit station into the neighborhood near Providence Portland Medical Center in Northeast Portland, Simpson said. Police are still working to identify him and the three men stabbed.
The suspect was ranting about many things, using "hate speech or biased language," and at one point focused on the young women, Simpson said.
The suspect then turned on the passengers who tried to help, Simpson said.
"In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at," Simpson said. "They were attacked viciously."
One good Samaritan died at the scene and another at the hospital, he said. The third victim was undergoing evaluation, but didn't suffer life-threatening wounds, he said.
"These were folks just riding the train and unfortunately got caught up in this," he said.
It's not clear why the man was yelling, Simpson said.
"He was talking about a lot of different things, not just specifically anti-Muslim," Simpson said.
"We don't know if he's got mental health issues," Simpson said. "We don't know if he's under the influence of drugs or alcohol or all of the above."
The FBI said it's "offering any resource that may assist Portland Police in their investigation" and will "determine whether there is any potential federal violation."
Evelin Hernandez, a 38-year-old Clackamas resident, said she was on the train when the man began making racist remarks to the young women. Some men tried to quiet him, she said, and he stabbed them.
The attack occurred about 4:30 p.m. on a MAX Green Line train as it was heading east. A train remained stopped on the tracks at the Hollywood/N.E. 42nd Avenue Transit Center as police investigated.
Simpson said police want to talk to the young women and other witnesses to the rampage. They understandably left the scene, but can help fill in what happened, he said.
"It's horrific," he said. "There's no other word to describe what happened today. For the victims, our thoughts and prayers are with their families. ... For the witnesses, there is no other word."
Friday marks the start of Ramadan, a monthlong fast observed by most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.
"Our thoughts are with the Muslim community," Simpson said. "As something like this happens, this only instills fear in that community. We have already reached out previous to this incident to our Muslim community partners and the different imams about extra patrol during Ramadan. We want to reassure them that that will continue."
Portland is home to a rough estimate of about 50,000 Muslims of different ethnicities.
"This appears at least to be an isolated incident based on what we know at this point," Simpson said.
Officers tried to save the man who died on the train, he said. Police have recovered the knife, he said.
Simpson thanked witnesses who called 911 and reported where the suspect went and what he was wearing.
"It was really critical to us taking this man into custody. (He was) obviously very dangerous based on his actions," he said.
TriMet said the Blue, Green and Red MAX lines were resuming normal service late Friday night and that the transit center was still closed.
"We are deeply saddened," the agency said on Twitter. "Our thoughts & prayers are with loved ones of those lost & with person injured."
"Every person has a right to live in this country without fear," TriMet said in an ensuing tweet.
Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who's standing in for Mayor Ted Wheeler, who was flying to London on Friday night, called the attack "especially sad and disturbing."
"People lost their lives or were injured because they stood up to hate," she said in a statement on behalf of the City Council.
"These are troubling times across our city, our country and the world. We cannot let this divide us," Eudaly said. "We need to unite against all forms of violence and hate. Our differences should be a cause for celebration, not something that foments hate."
The FBI said that, "At the core of the FBI's mission is the belief that every person has the right to live, work and worship in this country without fear."
"Hate and bigotry have no place in our community, and we will not allow violence in the name of hate to go unanswered," the agency said in a statement.
Police ask anyone who has information about the stabbing to call a non-emergency line, 503-823-3333. A vigil is planned for Saturday night at the transit center.