Two men were fatally stabbed on a Portland, Ore., commuter train Friday after they confronted a man yelling a number of “anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs” at fellow passengers, police say.
The suspect, a white man, did not limit his hate speech to any particular group, according to police and witnesses, but at one point may have targeted two young Muslim women — one of whom was wearing a hijab — police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said, according to local NBC affiliate KGW News.
“We have not been able to find those girls to verify that,” Simpson told NBC. The suspect remains in custody.
The incident occurred when the man began yelling hate speech and several passengers attempted to deescalate the situation, according to the report, when the suspect in response attacked three people who intervened, killing two and injuring another. The victims have not yet been identified.
“They were attacked viciously,” Simpson told NBC.
Marcus Knipe, a witness who said he was able to help one of the wounded passengers, described the scene to KGW.
“He ran onto the platform. He had been slashed in the neck but not severe wounds. But still pretty traumatic,” Knipe said. “I got him to calm down, sit down, relax so he wouldn’t bleed out. Someone threw me a cloth to on his neck, hold compression and wait for the paramedics, keep him calm. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Police said the victims did not know the suspect, and it remains unclear what prompted his aggression.
“We do not know if the suspect was drunk, on medication, had mental issues or anything else,” Simpson said, CNN reports.
Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley took to Twitter early Saturday morning to express his condolences.
“Champions of justice risked and lost their lives,” Merkley said. “Hate is evil.”