By Agence France-Presse
Police were searching for witnesses Saturday after two men were fatally stabbed on a train in Portland, Oregon when they tried to help two young women who were being harassed because they appeared to be Muslim.
The women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, “left before police arrived” Friday but may be able to provide key evidence in the case that has shaken the vibrant city in the US’s far northwest, Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said at a news conference.
Police identified the suspect Saturday as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, a known local white supremacist, according to local media.
After fleeing the scene, he was arrested late Friday and is currently being held without bail.
“This suspect was on the train and he was yelling and ranting and raving a lot of different things, including what we characterized as hate speech,” Simpson said.
“People approached him, tried to intervene with his behavior…they were attacked viciously by the subject, resulting in two deaths and one injury.”
One of the men was pronounced dead at the scene while another died on the way to the hospital. A third person is suffering from non-life threatening injuries.
It was unclear if the suspect had mental health issues or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police added.
The attack on Friday happened hours before the beginning of Ramadan, a sacred month for Muslims.
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