Army vet and college graduate, killed after trying to stop racist rants, are hailed as heroes

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An army veteran and recent college graduate fatally stabbed Friday on a train in Portland, Oregon, as they defended two women against a white supremacist’s anti-Muslim tirades, were hailed as heroes by the community.

Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were killed by 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian when they intervened to halt his verbal assault against two Muslim women on a MAX light rail train.

The Portland Mercury reported that Christian was known to the community as a white supremacist and had been photographed giving Nazi salutes in the past.

Police said Christian also stabbed a third man who survived the attack and is now hospitalized. Christian was arrested by authorities a short while later.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the Best and Meche “did the right thing” in coming to the defense of the two women.

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

Best, a father of four and 23-year veteran of the U.S. Army who worked for the city of Portland, died at the scene. Meche, who had recently graduated with a degree in economics from Reed College, died after he was taken to the hospital.

Christian is being held on several charges including aggravated murder, intimidation, attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He is set to appear in court on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The stabbings took place first day of Ramadan. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement Saturday it has seen a recent increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., casting some of the blame on President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration and calling on him to speak out against the attacks in Portland.

“President Trump must speak out personally against the rising tide of Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry and racism in our nation that he has provoked through his numerous statements, policies and appointments that have negatively impacted minority communities,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

As financial support began to pour in for the victims and memorials continued to grow near the scene of the attacks, including a crowd that gathered Saturday night for a candlelight vigil, Portland Imam Muhammad A. Najieb praised the three men who interceded.

“I am very thankful as a Muslim, I am very thankful as a Portlander that we stand together here as one,” he told the Associated Press.

Local station KATU posted a video of the vigil on its Facebook page.

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