A man fatally stabbed two passengers aboard a Portland commuter train Friday after they tried to stop him from harassing and yelling racist slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim.
Jeremy Joseph Christian of Portland, a 35-year-old convicted felon, was identified as the assailant. He stabbed three men: Ricky John Best ,53, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21.
Christian started shouting racists slurs at two teenage girls, one of whom was black and the other wore a hijab, the Portland Police Department said in a statement. The three men tried to intervene and that is when he stabbed them.
Best died at the scene, and Meche died at a hospital, police said. Fletcher is still in the hospital.
Christian has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and charges of attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon,, but authorities are also looking into whether he could also be charged with a federal hate crime, CNN reports.
“It’s too early to say whether last night’s violence was an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime,” Loren Cannon, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oregon told a news conference on Saturday, adding the FBI had joined the investigation.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations blamed an increase in anti-Muslim incidents in part on President Donald Trump’s focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric, they said in a statement.
Christian’s arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.