The family of a man accused of killing two people who tried to stop a tirade involving anti-Muslim and other "hate speech" aboard a Portland train last week has expressed condolences to the victims.
The family of alleged stabber Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, said in a statement Thursday that "We cannot begin to understand this senseless act" and that they denounce violence, bigotry and racism.
Christian allegedly stabbed three people who tried to intervene in the hate-filled tirade aboard a MAX train at around 4:30 p.m. local time Friday, police have said. Some of the vitriol was directed at two girls, one of whom was wearing an Islamic headscarf, police have said.
"The Christian Family offer their heartfelt condolences to those men who lost their lives at the hands of their son on May 26, 2017," the statement said.
"We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased; to the young women harassed; and to everyone who tried to protect these young women. "We cannot begin to understand this senseless act. We abhor violence, racism, and bigotry," the family said in the statement.
Rick Best, a 53-year-old Army veteran and father of four, and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche died in the attack and Micah Fletcher, 21, was stabbed in the neck but survived. His wound missed being a fatal injury by millimeters, officials said in court documents.
The family’s statement was posted on Thursday to the website of Portland attorney David Lesh, who confirmed the statement. The Oregonian newspaper reported the statement earlier in the day.
"We are praying for healing for everyone affected by the horrible actions of our son," the statement said.
Christian is charged with aggravated murder and other related counts. At a court appearance on Tuesday, he shouted about free speech and said "death to the enemies of America" and "You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism."
Portland's mayor called the three men who intervened heroes, and called the stabbing an act of bigotry and terrorism.
Police said they are investigating Christian’s alleged extremist views. The FBI is also assisting in the investigation. Christian is being held without bail.
President Donald Trump on Monday in a tweet called the violence "unacceptable" and said "the victims were standing up to hate and intolerance."