Man found guilty of killing 2 people who tried to stop his racist, anti-Muslim tirade on Portland train
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An Oregon man was convicted of murder on Friday after fatally stabbing two people who tried to stop his racist rant against young black women on a Portland commuter train in May 2017, the Associated Press reported.

Jeremy Christian, 37, was found guilty on 12 counts against him, including on two charges of first-degree murder for the deaths of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best.

He was also convicted of attempted murder for stabbing survivor Micah Fletcher, as well as assault and menacing for yelling slurs and throwing a bottle at a black woman on another train the day before the fatal attack.

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A 2019 law changed the definitions of aggravated murder to only apply to premeditated intentional homicide of two or more people, acts of terrorism, and the murder of children or police officers, meaning the death penalty is no longer on the table for Christian.

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

Prosecutors told the jurors that Christian boarded the light rail train on May 26, 2017 and began yelling racist, anti-Muslim and xenophobic slurs at the two black women, one of whom was an immigrant from Somalia and was wearing a Muslim headscarf.

Witnesses said he began bellowing things like “Muslims should die," "Go back to Saudi Arabia,” and "Kill yourselves!”

He also made a slicing motion across his neck and mentioned decapitating people before grabbing Namkai-Meche’s cellphone and throwing it to the ground.

AP noted that Christian’s defense attorneys argued that he felt cornered because he had tried to film the tirade.

Fletcher, who was another passenger on the train, stood up to intervene and started shoving Christian, according to authorities. The defendant then began taunting the Good Samaritans, telling the men to “do something” to stop him.

Christian then took out a 4-inch folding knife and stabbed Fletcher and Namkai-Meche before turning his attack to Best, another passenger who was standing nearby. Christian stabbed the three men 11 times in 11 seconds, according to AP.

Namkai-Meche and Best died at the scene while Fletcher survived his serious injuries thanks to passengers who applied pressure to his wound. 

Namkai-Meche was a 23-year-old recent college graduate who had reportedly just purchased a home, according to local news outlet KATU. Best was a 53-year-old father of four and an Army Veteran who worked for the Bureau of Development Services in Portland. 

Christian, who was arrested several blocks away, later told officials that he felt like he was on “auto-pilot.”

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“There’s no way I can explain what happened,” he said shortly after the attack, according to a transcript read in court. “Except both of those people would be alive if they’d kept their hands to themselves. Or got off the train or allowed me to have my free speech.”

Shortly after the incident, photos and videos surfaced showing Christian had recently attended and spoken at a rally hosted by a far-right group called Patriot Prayer, according to AP.

One image showed him making a Nazi salute while wearing an American flag around his neck and holding a baseball bat.

He also regularly complained in social media posts that Portland was a politically correct city where he felt as thought his free speech right was under assault, the outlet noted.