On Friday, 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, of north Portland, Oregon, boarded a light rail MAX train in Northeast Portland. He apparently had a chip on his shoulder and, for no discernable reason, began berating two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab. He began ranting and shouting, telling them to “Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here”. Fearing that his rants were escalating, at least three other passengers acted to try to calm Mr. Christian and protect the two women. Two of the three men are now dead, the third is in the hospital being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and Mr. Christian is being held without bond in police custody on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree and one count of possession of a restricted weapon as a felon.
A young woman on the train who wishes to remain anonymous said that when Christian got on the train, he was speaking on his cell phone:
“He was pretty upset, squinting his eyes, venting to his friend on the phone about some girl that just pepper-sprayed him. He was complaining about the city, complaining about Muslims, Christians, and it just got very violent very quick.”
After about 10 minutes, she apparently concluded that something was not right, and began recording him on her cell phone. To the best of my knowledge, that recording has not yet been released to the public.
Police say that his postings on social media sites typically relate to Nazis and political violence. On his Facebook page, he expressed sympathy for Nazis and also for Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. And just last month, Christian attended a free speech march with a baseball bat to confront protesters but the bat was quickly confiscated by officers.
In an incident the night before the attack, Christian confronted a black woman at a light rail station. He threw a Gatorade bottle at her, after which she sprayed him with mace. Christian has a criminal record that includes a host of felonies going back to 2002, when he was convicted of first-degree robbery and second-degree kidnapping. He also has a conviction for carrying/using a dangerous weapon from 2002.
During an 8-year prison stint for robbery, Christian racked up a lengthy disciplinary record, according to Oregon Department of Corrections officials. Those violations included assault and disobedience. He moved around in the state’s prison system, serving time at four institutions in all.
Two of his Facebook postings:
Donald Trump wants to ban immigrants who are of the Muslim faith, claiming that to let them come to the U.S. is opening the door for terrorism. Guess what … terrorism isn’t coming from the Middle East, it is right here, right now, it has a face (see above), it has a name, Jeremy Christian, and there are thousands more just like him in this country. These, folks, are the real terrorists.
This 35-year-old-man obviously had severe problems, had been in trouble with the law numerous times, and yet nobody picked up on it, or if they did, they shrugged their shoulders and … let Jeremy keep doing what Jeremy did. Until Friday, when he robbed two good men of their lives.
“He’s been in prison. He’s always been spouting anti-establishment stuff. But he’s a nice person. I just can’t imagine.” – Mary Christian, Jeremy’s mother
I suppose that all parents have a bit of blindness when it comes to their children, but this goes beyond blindness. To say, after everything he has done, that he is a ‘good person’, is simply delusional.
Ricky John Best of Happy Valley, Oregon, died at the scene. Rick was a city of Portland employee, Army veteran and onetime candidate for Clackamas County commissioner. Best had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter. Best retired from the Army as a platoon sergeant for Corps maintenance in 2012 after 23 years in the military.
23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche of southeast Portland, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. A friend said that Namkai-Meche died as he lived: Standing up for something he believed in, hoping his action would change the world for the better. He held a degree in economics, worked for a local construction firm, and had just purchased his first home.
21-year-old Micah Fletcher, was treated for injuries police said were “not expected to be life-threatening”. Fletcher is an aspiring poet who won a 2013 poetry competition, the Verselandia poetry slam, with a poem condemning prejudices faced by Muslims. He is a student at Portland State University, and works at a pizza shop. A GoFundMe account was established two days ago and has already received $211,685 as of this writing! There are still a lot of good people in this world.
These three men acted without thought for their own safety, they simply jumped in and did what needed to be done. As I write this, I feel deep sadness, particularly for the two gentlemen who lost their lives, but also for … all of us.
Micah Fletcher wrote this poem on Saturday, the day after he was stabbed:
“I, am alive,I spat in the eye of hate and lived.This is what we must do for one anotherWe must live for one anotherWe must fight for one anotherWe must die in the name of freedom if we have to.Luckily it’s not my turn today”