PORTLAND — One of two men killed Friday while coming to the aid of two teenage girls on a Portland MAX train was from Ashland.
"Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, my dear baby boy, passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland," wrote Myrddin's mother, Asha Deliverance, on her Facebook page this morning. "He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star, I love you forever."
Meche, 23, of southeast Portland, graduated from Ashland High School and from Reed College in 2016. The other man killed in the attack was identified as Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley.
Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of southeast Portland, was also stabbed, but his injuries do not appear to be life threatening, according to police. Meche died on his way to the hospital and Best died at the scene of the attack.
According to police, Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, stabbed Meche, Best and Fletcher after they came to the aid of two girls who were being harassed for being Muslim. Christian is being held in the Multnomah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder.
Police say Christian yelled racial slurs at the young women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
Dyjuana Hudson, a mother of one of the girls, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the man began a racial tirade as soon as he spotted the girls. Her daughter is African-American and was with a friend who was wearing a hijab, she said.
"He was saying that Muslims should die," Hudson said. "That they've been killing Christians for years."
The attack happened on a MAX train as it headed east. A train remained stopped on the tracks at a transit center which was closed while police investigated.
Autopsies on the victims were being done Saturday.
Police say the victims were trying to stop Christian from confronting the girls.
"In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at," police Sgt. Pete Simpson told the Portland newspaper. "They were attacked viciously."
Christian has had several encounters with the law.
In 2002, Christian, then 20, was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree kidnapping after he rode to a convenience store on his bike and held up employees there with a gun, according to court records and his court-appointed defense attorney at the time, Matthew Kaplan.
When police caught up with him, Christian aimed the gun at himself in a suicide attempt before he was shot and injured by police, Kaplan said.
Christian was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after striking a plea deal that eliminated coercion and weapons charges.
Kaplan said he remembers the case vividly because Christian was so young, so earnest and had never been in trouble before. At the time, the lawyer suspected the onset of mental illness to explain his actions and worried about how he would deal with a long prison sentence.
"It was so random, the event in his life. It made no sense that he did this at his age. He had no background like this, no history of violence and then he goes and gets a gun and robs a store," Kaplan told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Christian had another brush with the law in 2010, when he was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and theft. Those charges were dismissed, according to court records, which do not explain why.
Police say that before the stabbing the assailant on the train was ranting on many topics, using "hate speech or biased language."
One of the stabbing victims died at the scene and another died at a hospital. The third person was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.