Police on Saturday identified the victims as 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche. Best died at the scene, and Meche died at a hospital, police said. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, of Portland was also stabbed in the attack and is in serious condition at a Portland hospital, police said. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, police said.
In a press conference Saturday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the victims were heroes, CBS affiliate KOIN reports.
“They were attacked because they did the right thing,” Wheeler said. “Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes.”
Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was arrested a short time after the attack on Friday.
Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23
Namkai-Meche’s mother, Asha Deliverance, mourned her son in a Facebook post. “My dear baby boy passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland. He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever,” the post read.
Namkai-Meche lived in Portland and was a recent graduate of Reed College who studied economics. The university’s president, John R. Kroger, issued a statement Saturday, calling him a “beloved young man.”
“As we mourn together and seek ways to honor Taliesin’s life, we will provide information about any memorials as it becomes available,” the statement read. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Taliesin’s family and friends, the other brave victims, and their friends and family.”
The president quoted Professor Kambiz GhaneaBassiri who described Namkai-Meche as an “extraordinary person.”
“I still remember where he sat in conference and the types of probing, intelligent questions I could anticipate him asking. He was thoughtful, humble, smart, inquisitive, and compassionate. He was a wonderful human being. As good as they come. And now he is a hero to me,” the statement read.
Ricky John Best, 53
Best lived in Happy Valley and worked for the city of Portland, CBS affiliate KOIN-TV reports.
Best was a father of four, worked as a technician for the city’s Bureau of Development Services, and was an U.S. army veteran who served 23 years in the military, the Oregonian newspaper reports.
He had three teenage sons and a 12-year-old daughter, David Austin, a spokesman for Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, told the newspaper.
Both men are being hailed as heroes. Harris Zafar with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Portland said he was inspired by the actions of these men.
“Knowing that innocent people who were complete strangers stood up to defend these terrified two teenage girls,” Zafar told KOIN-TV. “They had nothing to gain out of it but they stood up to help them and to do what was right. That level of honor and valor and courage, we don’t see.”
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