PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The man accused of stabbing two teenagers on a MAX train in Portland’s Lents neighborhood early Saturday evening is facing a bias crime charge in addition to assault and robbery charges, according to authorities.

The charges were brought against the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Adrian Cummins, after he was interrogated by officers with PPB’s Major Crimes Unit. Cummin’s response to the line of questioning led detectives to believe a bias crime was committed, the bureau said.

“The investigation revealed that the suspect caused physical injury to the victims because of his perception of the victims’ race,” PPB said.

A knife recovered from the scene as evidence. (PPB)

Prior to the man’s arrest, a witness to the stabbing told KOIN 6 News that they believed the crime was racially motivated. The witness said that the suspect was white, and the 17-year-old victims were Black.

“It was very clearly a hate crime,” the witness said. “The suspect was white and the person who got stabbed was Black,” Siara told KOIN 6 News. “No words were exchanged.”

The suspect is also believed to have robbed a convenience store at knifepoint on the 9100 block of Flavel Street in Southeast Portland that same evening, police said. A knife was discovered near the scene and collected as evidence. No victims were injured during the robbery.

Cummins is set to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Portland.

“The Portland Police Bureau investigates all reports of bias-motivated crimes and encourages any member of our community who is the victim of such a crime to contact law enforcement,” PPB said. “Under Oregon law, bias crimes are defined as any criminal act that targets a victim based on the suspect’s perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or national origin. Detectives work to determine whether or not bias elements are present during the reported crime that align with Oregon law.”

Leaders respond

Oregon State Rep. Travis Nelson, who has long advocated for safer public transit, told KOIN 6 News this attack is unacceptable.

“It’s extremely concerning that there continues to be violence on MAX trains. It’s especially concerning that the two young people, as I understand it, who were attacked were men of color,” Nelson said. “And from what I’m understanding that attack was one that was racially motivated.”

Two people were stabbed near a SE Flavel MAX station in Portland, September 2, 2023 (KOIN)
Two people were stabbed near a SE Flavel MAX station in Portland, September 2, 2023 (KOIN)

Nelson, who said he is “not opposed to fareless transit,” said there has to be security on the trains.

“If the people who are committing these assaults are people who are not paying the fares, then we’ve got to have adequate security on trains to ensure that there is a safe environment for everybody who wants to ride,” he said.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Mayor Ted Wheeler said:

“My sincere appreciation goes out to the Portland Police Bureau and other first responders for their swift response to care for the victims and remove this dangerous individual from our streets. This behavior will not be tolerated in our community and I will advocate for full accountability that reflects the seriousness of this hideous crime.”

As Nelson pointed out, the alleged bias crime stabbing is the latest in a string of recent violent attacks to happen on and around public transit.

“Several months ago, I spoke out about the man who had his face chewed off partially on a MAX platform, and then there was a child who was pushed on to MAX tracks,” Nelson said. “Now this incident leaves me very concerned.”

While he said he felt encouraged after touring TriMet’s security family a few months back, he argues more must still be done to keep riders safe.

KOIN 6 News reached out to TriMet for a statement but have not yet received a response.