Portland's Gateway Transit Center
Portland's Gateway Transit Center (TriMet)

Hor­ri­fy­ing does­n’t even begin to describe how awful this is:

Port­land Police and wit­ness­es say a triple stab­bing aboard a MAX train Fri­day after­noon may have been reli­gious­ly moti­vat­ed. The stab­bing was report­ed around 4:30 p.m. as the train pulled into the Hol­ly­wood Tran­sit Cen­ter sta­tion in North­east Port­land. Two peo­ple have been pro­nounced dead and anoth­er has non-life threat­en­ing injuries.

Mul­ti­ple wit­ness­es told KATU the sus­pect was hurl­ing racial insults at two women, at least one of whom was wear­ing a hijab. Police would­n’t con­firm their ages, but referred to them as “girls” and “young women.” Sgt. Pete Simp­son with Port­land Police added the sus­pect appeared to be act­ing errat­i­cal­ly, and was­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly focused on anti-Mus­lim insults dur­ing the attack.

Two men who came to the wom­en’s defense had their throats slashed by the sus­pect, Sgt. Simp­son said.

Trag­i­cal­ly, both Good Samar­i­tans have died, but the sus­pect who alleged­ly mur­dered them has been caught and is in police custody.

Wit­ness­es say the inci­dent began when the unknown assailant began ver­bal­ly abus­ing the two young women on the train.

“[The sus­pect] said, ‘Get off the bus, and get out of the coun­try because you don’t pay tax­es here,’ [he said he] does­n’t like Mus­lims, they’re crim­i­nals,” Evelin Her­nan­dez said.

The police account offers more detail:

This inves­ti­ga­tion start­ed on Fri­day May 26, 2017, at 4:30 p.m., when North Precinct and Tran­sit Police Divi­sion offi­cers respond­ed to the report of a dis­tur­bance on an east­bound MAX train at the Hol­ly­wood Tran­sit Sta­tion involv­ing a male who stabbed two oth­er people.

Mul­ti­ple offi­cers respond­ed to the area and, while enroute, learned that the sus­pect got off the train and was leav­ing the area on foot towards Prov­i­dence Med­ical Center.

Offi­cers and med­ical per­son­nel arrived at the Hol­ly­wood Tran­sit Sta­tion and locat­ed three stab­bing vic­tims. Offi­cers began imme­di­ate med­ical treat­ment to the vic­tims at the scene until med­ical per­son­nel arrived. One vic­tim, an adult male, died at the scene.

The oth­er two vic­tims were trans­port­ed by ambu­lance to a Port­land hos­pi­tal, where one was pro­nounced dead and the oth­er was treat­ed for injuries that are not expect­ed to be life-threatening.

The sus­pect was locat­ed by offi­cers and tak­en into cus­tody. The sus­pect received med­ical treat­ment and was turned over to Homi­cide detec­tives. Pre­lim­i­nary infor­ma­tion indi­cates that the sus­pect was on the MAX train yelling var­i­ous remarks that would best be char­ac­ter­ized as hate speech toward a vari­ety of eth­nic­i­ties and religions.

At least two of the vic­tims attempt­ed to inter­vene with the sus­pect and calm him down. The sus­pect attacked the men, stab­bing three, before leav­ing the train.

Wit­ness­es described to police two young women, pos­si­bly Mus­lim, who were on the train at the time of the dis­tur­bance and attack, but left pri­or to police arrival. The young women have not been iden­ti­fied but one was described as wear­ing a hijab.

Detec­tives would like to speak to them, and any oth­er peo­ple who left the scene, as they may be wit­ness­es to this incident.

Police say they don’t yet know if the sus­pect has a men­tal ill­ness or sub­stance abuse prob­lems that may have caused or con­tributed to his evil behavior.

As men­tioned, detec­tives are request­ing that any per­son who saw the inci­dent or has any per­ti­nent infor­ma­tion to offer con­tact them. Detec­tives can be reached via a non-emer­gency line — 503–823-3333.

The Port­land office of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion says it stands ready to offer assis­tance to the Port­land police and will con­duct its own inves­ti­ga­tion if there is evi­dence fed­er­al law was bro­ken — which it seems there is.

“The FBI is aware of the attacks tonight, and we are offer­ing any resource that may assist Port­land Police in their inves­ti­ga­tion,” said the statement.

“We will cer­tain­ly be look­ing at the facts and evi­dence as the inves­ti­ga­tion unfolds to deter­mine whether there is any poten­tial fed­er­al vio­la­tion. At the core of the FBI’s mis­sion is the belief that every per­son has the right to live, work and wor­ship in this coun­try with­out fear. Hate and big­otry have no place in our com­mu­ni­ty, and we will not allow vio­lence in the name of hate to go unanswered.”

Respond­ing on behalf of the City of Port­land, Com­mis­sion­er Eudaly said:

The city of Port­land has a heavy heart right now, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the fam­i­lies and friends of the deceased and injured. This is an espe­cial­ly sad and dis­turb­ing inci­dent. Peo­ple lost their lives or were injured because they stood up to hate.

We need to offer our heart­felt sup­port to the two women and oth­ers who were tar­get­ed. The courage of the peo­ple who stood up for them is a reminder that we as a city need to stand togeth­er to denounce hate. Thank you to the coura­geous wit­ness­es who helped police locate the sus­pect before more peo­ple were hurt; thank you to the first respon­ders and med­ical per­son­nel who arrived quick­ly to admin­is­ter aid; and thank you to the police for appre­hend­ing the suspect.

These are trou­bling times across our city, our coun­try and the world. We can­not let this divide us. We need to unite against all forms of vio­lence and hate. Our dif­fer­ences should be a cause for cel­e­bra­tion, not some­thing that foments hate.

I’m ask­ing every­one to reach out and con­nect with your fam­i­lies, your friends and your neigh­bors. Let’s all stand together.

The Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions is ask­ing Don­ald Trump to per­son­al­ly denounce this hate crime and renounce Islam­o­pho­bia and racism in all forms.

“Pres­i­dent Trump must speak out per­son­al­ly against the ris­ing tide of Islam­o­pho­bia and oth­er forms of big­otry and racism in our nation that he has pro­voked through his numer­ous state­ments, poli­cies and appoint­ments that have neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties,” said CAIR Nation­al Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Nihad Awad.

“Only a strong state­ment from the nation’s leader will send a mes­sage to big­ots that such acts of vio­lence tar­get­ing racial, eth­nic or reli­gious minori­ties are unacceptable.”

Awad also urged local Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties to step up secu­ri­ty mea­sures dur­ing the month-long fast of Ramadan, which began tonight. CAIR is offer­ing Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers free copies of its book­let, “Best Prac­tices for Mosque and Com­mu­ni­ty Safe­ty.” The book­let may be request­ed through CAIR’s web­site.

Ear­li­er this week, CAIR con­demned the mur­der of an African-Amer­i­can Bowie State Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent by a sus­pect who is a mem­ber of a white suprema­cist group on Face­book called “Alt-Reich Nation.”

A vig­il is planned for Sat­ur­day night at the tran­sit cen­ter. We urge read­ers in the Port­land area to try and attend if at all possible.

Resist the dark­ness, we must, with every­thing we have.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts

2 replies on “Horrifying hate crime in Portland: Two Good Samaritans stabbed to death on a MAX train”

Comments are closed.