Police Arrest Portland Man Alleged to Have Fatally Stabbed Two Men After Yelling Anti-Muslim Slurs

by Yvette Cabrera –

The victims had reportedly tried to confront the man, who witnesses said was targeting a girl in a hijab.

Police have arrested a man who they allege fatally stabbed two men and injured another on a commuter train Friday afternoon in Portland, Oregon after the passengers confronted the suspect, who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs among other hate-tinged obscenities.

Law enforcement officials told CNN that the man was “yelling a gamut of anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs,” possibly directed at two girls who witnesses described as Muslim, including one wearing a hijab head covering. Police are treating the suspect’s remarks as hate speech.

“We have not been able to find those girls to verify that,” Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson told CNN.

Police charged the suspect, North Portland resident Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, on two charges of murder, as well as attempted murder, two counts of second degree intimidation, and a charge for felony possession of a restricted weapon. He will be arraigned on Monday and is being held without bail, according to a Portland Police Bureau statement.

Portland double homicide suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland. Credit: The Portland Police Bureau

The attack occurred after a group of passengers tried to intervene and calm the suspect, who was yelling what police described as “hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” according to the police statement. The suspect then stabbed three men and fled the train.

One stabbing victim, an adult male, died at the scene, while the other two victims were taken to a Portland hospital, where a second victim died. The third victim was treated for injuries that police stated were not expected to be life-threatening.

Police are seeking witnesses to the attack, including the two young, possibly Muslim women that witnesses told police were on the train at the time of the attack.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tweeted Friday night about the attack, saying about the victims: “Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked an increase in crimes targeting Muslims across the country and a “near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups between 2015 and 2016, triggered in part by the candidacy of President Donald Trump.

ThinkProgress also tracked hate incidents — threatening or harassing actions targeted against individuals because of their identities — from the election of Trump in November 2016 to early February 2017 and found that the number — 261 incidents across the country — “scope, and severity of hate incidents remains staggering.”

ThinkProgress found that the “wave of hate” extended across America’s heartland and has included a range of chilling incidents: Muslim women have been physically assaulted and told to remove their hijabs on buses and street corners. LGBTQ people allege being harassedand beaten as they walk home. Black churches were reportedly defaced with hateful racial slurs. A man of Guatemalan descent told police he was beaten as his assailants chanted “make America white again!” Trump supporters were also allegedly attacked, and at least three people were killed in what appear to be hate incidents.

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress