PORTLAND, Ore. – Two people died Friday and another was injured in a stabbing at a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racist comments at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, one of whom was wearing a hijab, according to police.
Officers arrested a man Friday afternoon who walked from the train, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported . The police is still working Friday evening to identify the man and the people who were attacked.
Before the stabbing the opponent on the train was ranting about a range of topics, with the help of “incitement to hatred or biased language,” and then turned his attention to the women, police Sgt. Pete Simpson said.
“In the middle 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,” said Simpson, The Oregonian. “They were attacked viciously.”
A person is dead at the scene and the other died in a hospital, Simpson said. The third person was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
It was not clear why the man was screaming, Simpson said.
“He was talking about a lot of different things, not only specifically anti-Muslim,” Simpson said.
The police do not know whether the man has mental problems, or if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
The attack happened on a MAX train, heading east. A train remained stopped on the tracks at a transit center was closed while police investigated.
Evelin Hernandez, a 38-year-old native of Clackamas, Oregon, told the newspaper she was on the train when the man began making racist comments to the women. A group of men tried to quiet him, and he put them on, ” she said.
Simpson said the women understandably left the scene before the police were able to talk with them, but that they would like to hear from them to help fill in what happened.
“It’s terrible,” Simpson said. “There is no other word to describe what happened today.”
Millions of Muslims marked the start of Ramadan on Friday, a moment of intense prayer, of dawn to dusk fasting and evening celebrations.