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"He made sure that we were loved": Son of Portland stabbing victim speaks out

Portland stabbing

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The son of Army veteran Ricky John Best, one of two people who died in a Portland train stabbing attack, is speaking out after the loss of his father.

Eric Best, the oldest of Ricky's four children, told CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal that he wasn't surprised that his father helped two young women who were targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

"Does it surprise you what he did that day on the train?" Villarreal asked.

"Honestly, no," said Eric Best.

"He would talk to every one of his kids," Eric Best said. "He would make sure that we were loved."

Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed as they tried to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from harassing the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, authorities say. Another man who stepped in was seriously injured.

Eric Best CBS News

Christian's social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence. He was charged with aggravated murder, intimidation -- the state equivalent of a hate crime -- and being a felon in possession of a weapon and was scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

President Trump on Monday condemned the fatal stabbing on Twitter.

"The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable," Mr. Trump tweeted. "The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Monday that he hopes the men's actions inspire "changes in the political dialogue in this country."

"I hope we rise to the memory of these two gentlemen who lost their lives," Wheeler said, adding that he appreciated Mr. Trump's words but stressing actions. "Let's do them honor by standing with them and carrying on their legacy of standing up to hate and bigotry and violence."

Wheeler asked the federal government and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events set to be held in the city next weekend, saying the community is sad and angry and the rallies are inappropriate and could be dangerous. He says his main concern is the participants are "coming to pedal a message of hatred," saying hate speech is not protected by the Constitution.

A Facebook page for the event says there would be speakers and live music in "one of the most liberal areas on the West Coast." It thanks Trump "for all you have done."

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.

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.

Portland honors heroes stabbed on train

Some had called for the president to respond to the attack earlier, including former CBS broadcaster Dan Rather and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon.

"This story may not neatly fit into a narrative you pushed on the campaign trail and that has followed you into the White House. They were not killed by an undocumented immigrant or a 'radical Islamic terrorist.' They were killed in an act of civic love, facing down a man allegedly spewing hate speech directed at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. That man seems to have a public record of 'extremist ideology' -- a term issued by the Portland Police Bureau," Rather wrote in an open letter to Mr. Trump on Facebook.

The mother of one of the targets of the rant said she was overwhelmed with gratitude and sadness for the strangers who died defending her daughter, 16-year-old Destinee Mangum.

Dyjuana Hudson posted a photo on her Facebook page Saturday of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, saying: "Thank you thank you thank you... You will always be our hero... I'm soooooo sorry this happened." On Sunday, Hudson posted a video with her daughter saying they were traumatized.

Mangum told news station KPTV that she and her 17-year-old friend were riding the train when Christian started yelling at them. She said her friend is Muslim, but she's not.

"He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia, and he told us we shouldn't be here, to get out of his country," Mangum said. "He was just telling us that we basically weren't anything and that we should kill ourselves."

Religious hate crimes are on the rise in the United States

The teens moved toward the back of the train, preparing to get off at the next stop.

"And then we turned around while they were fighting, and he just started stabbing people, and it was just blood everywhere, and we just started running for our lives," Mangum said.

Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was stabbed in the neck. His girlfriend, Miranda Helm, told The Oregonian on Sunday that Portland State University student was recovering his strength in the hospital and eating.

Telephone messages left at the home of Christian's mother Sunday and Monday were not returned. It was not clear if he had a lawyer yet.

Tomica Clark told The Oregonian that she has known Christian since elementary school. She said she was surprised to hear people call Christian a racist. Clark is black and said Christian had a lot of black friends.

"He never disrespected me," Clark said, but added that he changed after he got out of prison.

"Prison took the real him away," she said.

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