Two people died Friday and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland, Ore., light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said.
Officers arrested a man who ran from the train Friday afternoon, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Police were still working Friday night to identify the man and the people who were attacked.
Before the stabbing the assailant was ranting on many topics, using “hate speech or biased language,” and then turned his focus on the women, police Sgt. Pete Simpson said.
“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,” Simpson told the Oregonian. “They were attacked viciously.”
One person was dead at the scene and another died at a hospital, Simpson said. The third person was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
It wasn’t clear why the man was yelling, Simpson said.
“He was talking about a lot of different things, not just specifically anti-Muslim,” Simpson said.
Police don’t know whether the man has mental health issues or may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
The attack happened on a Metropolitan Area Express, or MAX train as it headed east. A train remained stopped on the tracks at a transit center, which was closed while police investigated.
Evelin Hernandez, a 38-year-old resident of Clackamas, Ore., told the newspaper she was on the train when the man began making racist remarks to the women. A group of men tried to quiet him and he stabbed them, she said.
Simpson said that the women understandably left the scene before officers were able to talk with them, but that police would like to hear from the pair to help fill in what happened.
“It’s horrific,” Simpson said. “There’s no other word to describe what happened today.”
Millions of Muslims marked the start of Ramadan on Friday, a time of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.