Portland is reeling from the aftermath of a vicious and seemingly senseless stabbing which took place on a MAX train on Friday afternoon. The incident left two people dead, one more injured, and a suspect in police custody. According to eyewitnesses, the entire bloody situation stemmed from the suspect yelling vulgar racial and anti-Muslim words at two young women on the train. The women appeared to be Muslim, and one was wearing a hijab.
As Oregon Live reports, the violence unfolded near the Hollywood transit station at roughly 4:30 p.m. That is where police apprehended the Portland stabbing suspect as he attempted to flee the crowded train and scene of the crime. The Hollywood transit station is located in Northeast Portland, not far from the Providence Portland Medical Center. While witnesses to the crime have stated that the stabbing suspect targeted two young Muslim women before turning on their defenders, police are not yet confirming that version of events in its entirety.
As CNN reports, Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson confirmed that their stabbing suspect was yelling a “gamut of anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs” throughout the apparently unprovoked attack. However, investigators have yet to speak to the two women that other passengers say were being harassed and verbally assaulted by the suspect.
“It is unclear if he was directing (slurs) at specific people but witnesses told us he may have been targeting two girls described as Muslim, one wearing a hijab. We have not been able to find those girls to verify that.”
According to eyewitnesses on the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light-rail train, the suspect had been yelling anti-Muslim slurs and other hate speech, at one point seeming to target the two Muslim women. At least three passengers on the Portland train attempted to intervene, and all three suffered from stab wounds as a result. All, allegedly, at the hands of a single suspect.
“In the midst 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. They were attacked viciously.”
Two of the victims died from their injuries, which police say involved stab wounds to the neck/throat area in at least one case. One of the good Samaritans reportedly succumbed to their wounds and died at the scene. A second was transported to a local Portland hospital where they also died. The third victim has reportedly been hospitalized for evaluation, but their injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
The stabbing suspect is also reportedly at a Portland hospital receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the incident.
At this time, police aren’t sure what prompted their suspect to go on such a rampage. Witnesses claim that while he was definitely spouting anti-Muslim rhetoric, his hateful speech wasn’t solely targeting the Muslim community.
“He was talking about a lot of different things, not just specifically anti-Muslim.”
At this early stage in their investigation, Portland police are still not sure if their suspect may have been drunk, high, or even possibly struggling with an underlying mental health issue at the time of the stabbing.
“This is at the early stages of the investigation. We don’t know if he’s got mental health issues. We don’t know if he’s under the influence of drugs or alcohol or all of the above.”
One passenger who was on the train and witnessed the horrifying stabbing claims that everything began when the suspect in question began verbally assaulting the young women with racist, anti-Muslim remarks. According to Evelin Hernandez, a group of male passengers then stepped in to try to silence the suspect when he began stabbing them.
Police are seeking the two young women in question in an attempt to gather witness statements and perhaps help “fill in the gaps” of what took place on the Portland train.
Police also noted that the deadly stabbing attack took place on the start of Ramadan, a month-long fast observed by most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, and spokesman Simpson voiced his concern for the Portland Muslim community in the wake of the stabbing.
“Our thoughts are with the Muslim community. As something like this happens, this only instills fear in that community.”
At this time, Portland police have yet to release the names of the suspect or victims in the Portland train stabbing attack.
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