Portland stabbing suspect went on racist tirade night before deadly attack, police say

Last Updated May 29, 2017 3:16 AM EDT

The man accused of stabbing three people, two fatally, on a Portland train had previously gone on a racist tirade on a train one night before the deadly attack, police confirmed to CBS affiliate KOIN.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, is accused of stabbing three men who intervened when he allegedly yelled racial slurs at two young women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, on a Portland light-rail train Friday night. 

Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed in the incident. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland, was also stabbed in the attack and is in serious condition at a Portland hospital, police said. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, police said.  

KOIN obtained the video, which they said was recorded by a woman who asked only to be identified as KK. She said Christian was talking on his cellphone and was visibly upset when he got on the train. 

"He was pretty upset, squinting his eyes, venting to his friend on the phone about some girl that just pepper-sprayed him," KK said. "He was complaining about the city, complaining about Muslims, Christians, and it just got very violent very quick."

KK said she had never heard anyone talk like that on a MAX train before. She felt there was "something really wrong" about his behavior, and said she started recording him on her cellphone about 10 minutes into his rant.

Christian has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday.

Police said they'll examine what appears to be Christian's extremist ideology. Christian's social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence.  

Police Sgt. Pete Simpson told CBS News that Christian attended a free speech march in April with a baseball bat to confront protesters but the bat was quickly confiscated by officers.

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Jeremy Joseph Christian 

KOIN-TV/MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

The Portland Mercury, one of the city's alternative weeklies, posted an article with video clips of a man wearing a metal chain around his neck and draped in an American flag. "He ranted how he was a nihilist. He'd soon yelled racial slurs ... and gave the Nazi salute throughout the day," the Portland Mercury says.

On what appears to be Christian's Facebook page he showed sympathy for Nazis and Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.Portland spent the holiday weekend memorializing the victims. 

Thousands of people gathered at the Hollywood Transit station Saturday night to remember the victims, including the family of victim Meche, a recent Reed College graduate.  His mother, Asha Deliverance, said her son had a heart "as big as the world," KOIN reports.

"Love is what it's about," she said. "We taught him to love everyone and that's what we should be doing and that's what we all should be doing and that's why we are all here, so give it up for love."

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Taliesin Namkai-Meche

Facebook

Deliverance posted on Facebook after the attack: "Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, My dear baby boy passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland. He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever." 

 A woman at the vigil, Rachel Macy, told KOIN she had been with Meche in his final moments on the train. "I just didn't want him to be alone," Macy said. "I took my shirt off and put it on him. We held it together, I just prayed, all I could do was pray." 

"I told him, 'You're a beautiful man. I'm so sorry the world is so cruel,'" Macy said.

"He said, 'Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them,'" she said. "He was a beautiful man, that's what I want people to know."

Best, a father of four, was an army veteran and City of Portland employee. His family said standing up for strangers was in his character, CBS News' Mireya Villarreal reports. 

Best lived in Happy Valley and had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter, according to David Austin, a spokesperson for City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.

Best worked for the Bureau of Development Services as a technician and ran for a position on the Clackamas County Commission in 2014 after retiring from the U.S. Army in 2012. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan in his 23 years of service.

The mother of one of the girls the victims were defending posted on Facebook thanking them for what they did, KOIN reports. 

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Dyjuana Hudson wrote. "You will always be our hero."

Hudson's teenage daughter was with her Muslim friend when the suspect allegedly started yelling at them.

The third stabbing victim, Fletcher, is a student at Portland State University and was taking the train from classes to his job at a pizza shop when the attack occurred.

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Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland, seen in undated photo provided by his family

Fletcher family

In 2013, Fletcher won a 2013 poetry competition, the Verselandia poetry slam, with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.