Portland stabbing suspect shouts in court: 'You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism'

Suspect Jeremy Christian briefly appeared in court Tuesday afternoon.

ByABC News
May 30, 2017, 9:47 AM

— -- The 35-year-old suspect in the knife attack that left two people dead and allegedly involved hate speech appeared to defend his actions during a brief court appearance on Tuesday.

Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland was charged with two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted aggravated murder, first-degree assault, three counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of second-degree intimidation, according to the initial charging document filed in court by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

Christian shouted, "Free speech or die" and "You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism" to the crowd and continued to yell as he was escorted out of the courtroom.

Micah Fletcher, the survivor of a Portland, Oregon, was in the courtroom when Christian made the statements. Fletcher issued a statement honoring the two people who died and offering support to the city's Muslims.

"I want the Muslim community to know that they have a home here in Portland and are loved," Fletcher said in the statement. "I want to honor the families who lost their brave fathers, sons and brothers, and I want the media and the country to honor those families. I want to send my condolences and honor those families."

On Friday around 4:19 p.m., the two juvenile females were already on the train when Christian boarded the Green Line TriMet MAX toward the Clackamas Town Center at the Rose Quarter stop, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Lufkin said in a probable cause affidavit. The court documents described one of the females as African-American and the other, who was wearing traditional Muslim dress, as African-American Muslim.

Shortly after boarding the train, Christian allegedly "began shouting statements seemingly targeted at the girls." Christian also could be "seen taking large drinks from a bladder style container of purple liquid," which authorities later identified to be sangria, according to the affidavit.

A nearby male witness, who was not one of the victims of the attack, attempted to "intervene and verbally de-escalate the situation but was unsuccessful" and Christian "continued shouting," the court document states.

Christian then allegedly said something about "decapitating heads," and the female victims were "clearly alarmed" and moved away from him, according to the affidavit. The suspect could then be seen in both surveillance and cellphone video taken by other passengers "making a sudden move" in the direction of 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, who responding to Christian "by standing up," the court document states.

Fletcher then could be seen standing next to Myrddin Namkai-Meche as Christian allegedly shouted, "Do something!" at the pair. He could then be seen shoving Fletcher in the chest before pulling out what appeared to be a folded knife from his pocket and concealing it in his hand, according to the affidavit.

After Fletcher shoved Christian, the suspects said, "Hit me again," and Fletcher told him to get off the train, the court document states.

Christian then was allegedly seen on video swinging his right hand toward Fletcher while simultaneously opening the blade to stab Fletcher in the neck. After stabbing Fletcher, Christian then allegedly stabbed Myrddin Namkai-Meche in the neck and subsequently stabbed him a second time.

Ricky John Best, 53, could then be seen on video moving toward the scuffle to intervene, and Christian then allegedly stabbed him before pushing him into Myrddin Namkai-Meche, who was in a seat trying to stop his bleeding, the court document states. Christian then allegedly stabbed both Best and Myrddin Namkai-Meche again while Fletcher was seen in the background clutching his neck to stop the bleeding, according to the affidavit.

After the stabbings, Christian could be seen on video picking up his belongings before exiting the train as he continued to hold the knife and threaten people on the platform, according to the affidavit. Christian also grabbed a bag dropped by one of the females he was harassing and tossed it aside as he exited up the stairs, the court document states.

Christian allegedly threw the knife he used in the attack at a police car, which it bounced off of, landing nearby. The knife recovered by police was a folding knife measuring at almost four inches, the affidavit states.

Christian was apprehended by police shortly after.

Christian did not enter a plea during his first appearance Tuesday, and he is set to be formally arraigned on June 7, Lane Borg, executive director of Metropolitan Public Defenders, told ABC News. Borg did not offer a comment or statement on regarding today's court appearance.

Public defender Gregory Scholl has been assigned to Christian's case, Borg said.

Fletcher, a 21-year-old poet who won a 2013 poetry competition with a poem that condemned the mistreatment of Muslims, according to The Oregonian newspaper.

He was taking a light-rail train from Portland State University, where he is a student, to his job at a pizza shop at the time of the attack on Friday, the paper reported.

Fletcher was slashed in the throat but survived, the paper reported.

In the wake of the attack, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is asking the federal government to cancel a permit for what he called an "alt-right" rally scheduled for Sunday, saying the event could make a difficult situation worse.

Wheeler also said he is trying to ensure that a permit is not issued for a June 10 event, which ABC Portland affiliate KATU reported is called March Against Sharia.

ABC News' Alyssa Pone, John Cappel and Bonnie McLean contributed to this report.