In Portland, people have set up a makeshift memorial for two stabbing victims who were killed after defending two women from a man yelling hate speech.

Portland Stabbing Victims Hailed As Heroes, Identified As 53-Year-Old Army Vet, 23-Year-Old Reed College Grad

Portland police have identified the two stabbing victims who were killed Friday on a Portland MAX train as 53-year-old Ricky John Best, a dad and Army veteran, and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, who graduated last year from Reed College.

The two men died while another was injured after they tried to intervene when a man began yelling hate speech toward two young women on the light-rail train. The two female passengers have not been identified, but the Portland Police Bureau reported that one was described as wearing a hijab.

The Portland stabbing incident occurred just before 5 p.m. near the Hollywood Transit Station. According to Portland police, the suspect began hurling what was said to be “hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions” and focusing on the two young women. The victims reportedly tried to defend the female passengers and calm the suspect down. The suspect then attacked the men, stabbing all three, before exiting the MAX train.

When police officers arrived at the station, they were able to locate the three stabbing victims and provided medical treatment until medical personnel arrived. Best reportedly died at the scene while Namkai-Meche was pronounced dead at a Portland hospital.

The third stabbing victim, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was treated for injuries that were reportedly not life-threatening.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche

Before Portland police confirmed the identities of the Portland stabbing victims, Asha Deliverance, Namkai-Meche’s mother, announced on Facebook that her son Taliesin was one of the deceased victims of the MAX train stabbing attack.

CNN reports that Namkai-Meche graduated with a degree in economics from Reed College in 2016. After graduation, he worked for the Cadmus Group, an environmental consulting agency. The 23-year-old, who was described by his sister as a compassionate man with many plans, had reportedly just bought a house and hoped to get married and have children.

In a Facebook post, Namkai-Meche’s sister shared that she was so proud of her brave and strong big brother.

“My heart feels empty from the loss of my big brother, but also from the cruel awakening that hate & judgment can cause someone to do such a thing.”

“You have always and will always be my hero, Tilly,” she wrote.

Ricky John Best

Best, a father-of-four, was with the military for 23 years before he joined his family in the Portland suburb of Happy Valley. CNN reports that after his time in the Army, the 53-year-old worked as an electronics repairman so he could spend more time with his children.

After a couple of years, he ran for a seat as county commissioner of Clackamas County. In 2014, The Oregonian published a piece about Best’s campaign and his extraordinary decision to not receive campaign donations.

In it, Best explained that he didn’t want to be beholden to anyone if he was elected as a Clackamas County commissioner. He also revealed that he decided to run for the board after years of scrutinizing the commissioners’ decisions, which included giving themselves pay raises.

“I can’t stand by and do nothing.”

David Austin, a spokesman for Portland commissioner Chloe Eudaly, said that Best was “a devoted husband who talked often of his family.”

“He was a model public servant.”

Micah Fletcher remains in hospital

Fletcher, the third Portland stabbing victim, was the only one to survive. He is currently being treated for knife wounds to his neck. According to The Oregonian, the 21-year-old was on his way from classes at Portland State University to his job at a pizza shop when the attack occurred.

The outlet notes that Fletcher won a poetry slam in 2013 with a poem in which he spoke out against post-September 11 Muslim prejudice.

Portland stabbing victims hailed as heroes

In a statement about the Portland stabbing, Mayor Ted Wheeler said that the victims are heroes for valiantly standing up to hatred.

“Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn’t know against hatred.”

“Their actions were brave and selfless,” he said, “and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all.”

“They are heroes.”

Mayor Wheeler also lamented that there is too much hatred and violence in the world, and that too much of it has made its way to Portland.

He echoed these sentiments during a press conference in Portland on Saturday and vowed that he would “relentlessly pursue justice” for the Portland stabbing victims. He called the attack “a horrific act of racist violence.”

“Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry,” Wheeler said.

“Violent words can lead to violent acts.”

[Featured Image by Gillian Flaccus/AP Images]