A man in the northwestern U.S. city of Portland is being held on suspicion of stabbing to death two men who were reportedly trying to prevent the assailant from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim.
Jeremy Christian was arrested on May 26 and charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated murder for nonlife-threatening injuries inflicted on a third man.
The incident reportedly began when Christian began shouting religious and ethnic slurs at two young women he took to be Muslims on board a commuter train. Police said one of the two young women was wearing a hijab.
Dyjuana Hudson, a mother of one of the women, was quoted by U.S. media as saying that the man began a racial tirade as soon as he spotted them. Her daughter is African-American and was with a female friend who was wearing a hijab, Hudson said.
Police identified the victims as Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, Oregon, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, of Portland.
Police said Best died at the scene and that Meche died at a hospital.
The incident occurred just hours before the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement saying anti-Muslim incidents in the United States increased by more than 50 percent from 2015 to 2016 and calling for U.S. President Donald Trump to "speak out personally against the rising tide of Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa