PORTLAND, Ore. -- State leaders are speaking out to honor the victims stabbed in a brutal rampage on a MAX train in Northeast Portland on Friday. Witnesses say three men stood up to protect two young women from a vulgar barrage of violent hate speech.
Two of the men, 53-year old Rick John Best of Happy Valley and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche of Southeast Portland, died from the wounds they suffered in the attack. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Southeast Portland was hospitalized.
Sen. Jeff Merkley called the three men "champions of justice."
“This horrific attack was a stark reminder of the evil of hate. No community should have to suffer that evil. And it is up to each of us to overcome it," Merkely said. “As Portlanders, as Oregonians, and as Americans we must stand together to defy hate; to show that the spirit of those good Samaritans is stronger than evil; and that compassion, courage and love will prevail.”
State Rep. Mike McLane asked that we keep the men in our thoughts and prayers as we work to heal.
“Evil struck the city of Portland last night and ripped a hole in the heart of Oregon and her people," McLane said. "The Oregonians who lost their lives standing up against hatred will be remembered by many as heroes. Our hearts grieve for them, their families and for all those impacted by yesterday’s senseless violence."
Several other leaders celebrated the heroism of Fletcher, Best and Meche, and condemned the attack as well as the vitriol that preceded it.
"This horrific killing shocks the senses and must sound the alarm louder than ever about the violence that follows hate speech," said Sen. Ron Wyden.
"What has our country come to? Please join me in standing with our Muslim neighbors and condemning the hate speech and violence," said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. "And let's offer our condolences to the grieving families of the model citizens who courageously stood up for their neighbors and our American values."
Mayor Wheeler: Stabbing victims 'are heroes' for standing up to hate
"I am absolutely heartbroken by the loss of two brave, compassionate lives yesterday evening in Portland," said Governor Kate Brown. "My deepest condolences to the families of the good Samaritans and to the two women who were the target of the suspect's vitriol."
Brown also lamented that the vicious attack happened during the afternoon commute, on a MAX train, where people should feel safe.
"Safety while traveling through our community is a basic human right that we need to be able to guarantee to everyone, regardless of where they're from, or what they believe," she said.
The suspect, 35-year-old Jeremy Christian, is a self-proclaimed white nationalist. He has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and felony possession of a restricted weapon. He is expected to appear in court Tuesday.