A man who police say hurled anti-Islamic arches on two teenage girls on a rush hour train in Oregon, and fatal to two men who tried to calm him down has been charged with murder, police said Saturday.
Jeremy Joseph Christian was held in the Multnomah County Jail Saturday, a day after the attack. The 35-year-old man spent time in prison for robbery and kidnapping charges years ago.
Christian is also charged with the stabbing of a third man. That victim also tried to settle him down. He survived the attack that took place on a light rail train stops in the center of Portland.
Christian was arrested when he tried to flee through a center of the neighborhood.
“He said that Muslims must die,” Dyjuana Hudson, the mother of one of the girls told the Oregonian. “They have been killing Christians for years.”
She said that her daughter Destineé Hudson, 16, is black, and her daughter, and her friend, 17, is a Muslim. The friend was wearing a hijab.
“He had been acting the entire journey, pretty much from the time that he is up to the 42nd,” Hudson told the newspaper.
She took one of the men who was stabbed as saying: “You can’t be with them like that — they’re little girls.”
The names of the victims have not been released.
“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 he was yelling,” police Sgt. Pete Simpson told the Oregonian.
Friday was the start of Ramadan, the holiest time of the year for the Muslims, and the attack prompts soul-searching in Portland, a city that is proud of its tolerance and liberal views, according to the Associated Press. A memorial of flowers and signs quickly grew on the scene by a transit station.
In 2002, Christian, then 20, was arrested and charged with first-degree theft and second-degree kidnapping after he drove to a supermarket on his bike and kept employees there with a gun, according to court records and his court-appointed lawyer at the time, Matthew Kaplan.
When the police caught up with him, Christian point the gun on himself in a suicide attempt before he was shot and wounded by the police, Kaplan said.
Christian was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after striking a plea deal that eliminated the use of restraint and weapons charges.
Kaplan said he remembers the case vividly because Christian was so young, so serious, and had never been in trouble before. At the time, of the lawyer of the suspect, the beginning of the mental illness to explain his actions and worried about how he would cope 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, such as this, no history of violence and then he goes and gets a gun and robs a store,” Kaplan told the AP.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.