PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What allegedly started out as a racist, hate-filled rant targeting two girls on a late-May, Friday afternoon, ended as one of the darkest moments in Portland’s history.
As the trial of Jeremy Christian gets underway, we’re taking a look at the survivors and victims he is accused of attacking. Two men he allegedly killed, another he allegedly tried to, and the two young women who say they weren’t supposed to be on that train, that day.
Destinee Mangum and Walia Mohamed
The two teenaged girls allegedly targeted by Jeremy Christian onboard a MAX Train on May 26, 2017 have remained, relatively, out of the public spotlight since that day.
Leading up to the one year anniversary of the attack, Destinee Mangum and her mom talked to several media outlets, including KOIN 6, about the attack. Mangum said that when Christian started yelling at the two of them, it was obvious that he, “wasn’t in the right mind frame.”
Mohamed has remained more reclusive. According to the Oregonian, while speaking to author Arjun Singh Sethi for a book called American Hate: Survivors Speak Out, Mohamed said that Christian began yelling at her and Mangum from the moment he boarded the train.
As the chaos of the attack unfolded, Mangum told KOIN 6 she and Mohammed just “grabbed our stuff and started running.”
It wasn’t until later that afternoon they learned what happened to the three men who stood up to defend them.
In 23 years of life, Taliesin Namkai-Meche stood up for people.
After he was stabbed to death on board Portland’s MAX Green Line train, his mother wrote a letter to President Donald Trump to tell him her son had died a hero. According to his sister, Namkai-Meche lived that way too.
His sister said that at just 14-years-old, while the family was living in Ashland, Taliesin scared off a mountain lion that was trying to attack the two of them while they were camping.
Namkai-Meche left Oregon to attend high school in Pebble Beach, California, before moving to Portland to attend Reed. There he became immediately involved in social justice causes. He obtained a degree in economics and went to work evaluating governmental energy efficiency programs for Portland-based Cadmus Group.
Namkai-Meche was 23 years old and talking with his aunt on his cell phone when Jeremy Christian began berating two teen girls on a MAX train. He hung up the phone, stood up to Christian and got stabbed three times.
As he was dying on the train, Taliesin told a woman who was trying to stop the bleeding, “Tell them. I want everybody to know. I want everybody on the train to know, I love them.”
Ricky Best was riding the Green Line home from his job with the City of Portland on May 26, 2017, when Jeremy Christian launched into a hate-filled tirade against two teen girls.
The 23-year veteran of the U.S. Army served in both Iraq and Afghanistan where, according to his son Eric who talked to KOIN 6 News following the attack, he helped build and rebuild infrastructure in war-torn villages.
Best retired from military service in 2012 and returned to his home in Happy Valley. He subsequently ran for a position on the Clackamas County Commission before taking the position as a technician with the Portland Bureau of Developmental Services.
Eric Best told KOIN 6 News after the attack that he was not surprised at all to hear that his father was one of the men who stood up to defend people who he had never met, even though it cost him his life.
“It didn’t matter about race, ethnicity, religion,” Eric Best said. “He just wanted to help whoever was in need. He was a hero way before his sacrifice on the MAX.”
Along with Eric, the 53-year-old Best left behind his wife, two other sons, and a daughter.
Before he stood up on the MAX train to try and calm Jeremy Christian down, Micah Fletcher played the role of peacemaker.
In 2013 he placed second in a local poetry contest for his work on Islamophobia and hate speech directed at Muslims.
Four years later, after hearing about a gathering of far-right activists along 82nd Avenue in Southeast Portland, Fletcher donned a bright red nose, sunglasses and clown had and, according to our media partners at the Portland Tribune, went to the rally and juggled in hopes of diffusing tensions between opposing protest groups, Patriot Prayer and Antifa.
He went face-to-face with Jeremy Christian there.
One month later, Fletcher was riding the Green Line on his way to work when he saw Christian again and stepped up. This time to defend two teen girls. According to court documents, during the confrontation, Fletcher shoved Christian before Christian swung a knife and slashed his throat, breaking his jaw in the process.
In a Facebook video posted after he was released from the hospital, Fletcher urged the public to focus on the two targets of Christian’s rage, not just on the three men who intervened.
“We need to remember this is about them,” Fletcher said. “This is about those little girls.”
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