Two men were fatally stabbed Friday on a crowded commuter train in Portland, Oregon, when they confronted a passenger who was “yelling a gamut of anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs,” a police spokesman said.
The suspect may have been targeting two girls who were described as Muslim. One of them was wearing a hijab, Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson told CNN.
“We have not been able to find those girls to verify that,” Simpson said.
Police are considering the man’s remarks as hate speech, the department said in a statement.
The stabbing occurred on a Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light-rail train, Portland police said.
One man suffered injuries and first responders attempted to save his life, but he died at the scene. A second victim, also stabbed, died at a hospital, police said.
Witnesses said one of the victims was stabbed in the neck, CNN affiliate KOIN reported.
A third passenger, who also tried to intervene with the shouting man, was injured but is expected to survive, police said.
The victims didn’t know the suspect and were trying to protect other passengers in the train, police said.
Police say it’s unclear what might have led to the confrontation.
“We do not know if the suspect was drunk, on medication, had mental issues or anything else,” Simpson said.
‘Hate is evil’
The stabbings happened as the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month-long period of fasting, approached at sunset.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on President Donald Trump to denounce “against rising bigotry” and acts of violence against Muslims following the stabbings.
“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.
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley took to Twitter to talk about the stabbings.
“Terrible tragedy on Portland’s Max Train. Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil,” he wrote.