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‘I call it patriotism!’: Suspect in fatal attack aboard Portland light-rail train appears in court

Jeremy Joseph Christian shouts as he is arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Authorities say Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. When three men on the train intervened, police say, Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one.
Jeremy Joseph Christian shouts as he is arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Authorities say Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. When three men on the train intervened, police say, Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one. The Oregonian via AP

Soon after he boarded a MAX train last Friday, Jeremy Christian began shouting at two African-American teenage girls – one wearing traditional Muslim dress – as he drank sangria from a container, according to a Multnomah County Circuit Court document filed Tuesday that details the knife attack that killed two men and injured a third.

Christian, 35, was defiant during his brief initial court appearance Tuesday, shouting: “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!”

He made repeated outbursts, saying, “Free speech or die, Portland. You’ve got no safe place!” and “Death to the enemies of America!”

The affidavit of probable cause is based on police reports and reviews of transit-system and cellphone video. It states that the first person to try to “deescalate the situation” was a MAX rider identified as “Mr. Forde,” who reported that Christian was talking about “decapitating heads.”

According to the affidavit, Christian made a sudden move toward passenger Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, who responded by standing. Christian, 35, shouted ‘Oh, do something bitch!’ “ and shoved another train passenger, Micah David Fletcher-Cole, in the chest.

Free speech or die, Portland. You’ve got no safe place!

Jeremy Christian, accused of stabbing two men to death in Portland, at his initial court appearance Tuesday.

I want the Muslim community to know that they have a home here in Portland and are loved.

Micah David Fletcher-Cole, who survived the attack

The video shows Christian appearing to pull a folded knife out of his pocket, then concealing it in his hand, according to the affidavit.

Fletcher-Cole pushes at Christian, who stumbles, and tells him to get off the train. Then Christian begins the knife assault, according to the document.

Christian slashes Fletcher-Cole in the neck; he then stabs Meche in the neck, then wounded him a second time, according to the affidavit.

In the video, passenger Rick Best is seen “moving forward to intervene,” according to the document.

Christian then pushes Best into Meche, who was trying to staunch the bleeding while in a seat. Christian then stabs both men, according to the affidavit, who died of their wounds.

Authorities apprehended Christian after he fled. While being transported in a police vehicle, he said, among other things, “Get stabbed in your neck if you hate free speech,” and said he could now “die in prison a happy man,” according to the affidavit.

Fletcher-Cole survived his injuries and showed up Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court as Christian made his first appearance on murder, assault and other charges.

Fletcher-Cole issued a statement about the attack, reported by ABC News.

“I want the Muslim community to know that they have a home here in Portland and are loved,” Fletcher-Cole said. “I want to honor the families who lost their brave fathers, sons, and brothers and I want the media and the country to honor those families. I want to send my condolences and honor those families.”

Best, an Army veteran who worked in Portland city government, left behind a wife and four children. The eldest, Eric Best, told KATU TV in Portland his father “died fighting the good fight, protecting the innocent. Honestly, that’s what he probably would’ve wanted,” the son said. “I miss him, we all miss him.

Asha Deliverance told The Seattle Times her son had a brave spirit. She said he was a humanitarian “who would have stepped up for anyone.”

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