Jeremy Joseph Christian has been arrested on charges of suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder for his alleged involvement in fatally stabbing two men who attempted to stop him from screaming anti-Muslim comments at fellow passengers on Portland’s MAX light rail train.
The incident happened Friday at approximately 4:30 p.m. near Portland’s Hollywood District. According to authorities, Christian began yelling ethnic and religious slurs at two women—one of which was wearing a traditional Muslim hijab head covering.
“In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached [Christian] and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at,” Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said during a news conference, which you can see below courtesy of The Oregonian. “They were attacked viciously by the suspect.”
According to a report by the Willamette Week, both victims sustained injuries to the throat. One eyewitness said Christian told the women, “Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here.” The women are believed to have left the scene without sustaining any injuries.
The killings are the latest in a series of xenophobic standoffs that have recently gone viral. An Arkansas woman was banned from Walmart stores after her racist rant calling one fellow shopper a racial slur and yelling for another to “go back to Mexico” went viral earlier this week. A similar incident was filmed in Reno, Nevada, as a man directed racist remarks at another man for speaking Spanish to his mother while on the phone.
In November of 2016, the Pew Research Center released data concluding anti-Muslim assaults reached its highest levels since September 11, 2001. In the following months, President Trump reiterated a campaign promise to build a $10 billion wall dividing the U.S. and Mexico in efforts he and his administration believed would quell illegal immigration. Thursday, a federal appeals court rejected a revised version of Trump’s travel ban, which called to severely limit travel to the United States from six primarily Muslim nations. Critics have pointed to a direct link between post-election violence, xenophobic attitudes, and Trump’s stance on the proposed border wall and travel ban, while citing Trump’s perceived inaction on denouncing such behavior.
"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."