The man suspected of killing two on a Portland, Oregon, commuter train with a knife had been convicted previously of felony weapons, robber and kidnap charges, arrested again on another weapons charge for which he pleaded guilty, resulting in the count being dismissed.
The murder suspect is Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, who stabbed two men on the train Friday when they interceded when he began verbally assaulting a woman wearing a Muslim head covering, known as a hijab. Christian’s violent criminal history dates back 15 years.
“This suspect was on the train and he was yelling and ranting and raving, a lot of different things, including what would be characterized as hate speech or bias language,” Portland Police Sgt. Pete 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 he was yelling at and they were attacked viciously by the suspect.”
A third stabbing victim is expected to survive the attack.
The deceased victims were 53-year-old Ricky John Best, of Happy Valley, who died at the scene, and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, of southeast Portland.
According to witnesses, Christian said he was going to get off the MAX at the next stop and said no one should follow him.
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Portland police took Christian into custody near the Providence Medical Center after he ran south into the nearby neighborhoods.
According to court records, Christian became a convicted felon in 2002 and later resolved two pending criminal cases in 2012 by way of a plea agreement with the state.
Christian was known by local police as a “white supremacist.” He had been photographed by local media giving a Nazi Salute.
In video captured by Portland Mercury reporter Doug Brown, Christian identities himself by name and is later photographed giving a Nazi salute.
As recently as May 9 he posted on his Facebook page that he had challenged the last living Nuremberg prosecutor of Nazi war criminals to a debate, adding: “I will defend the Nazis and he will defend the AshkeNAZIs.” (Ashkenazis are European-born Jews.)
Yet, with the criminal and hatred-filled background, Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman said Saturday the attacks “are hard to comprehend.”
Christian is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation, and one count each of attempted aggravated murder and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon for carrying a knife.