Portland train stabbing suspect has another outburst in court
PORTLAND, Oregon (CNN) — Jeremy Joseph Christian shouted the name of a Portland train stabbing victim at the end of a brief court appearance Wednesday, as the victim watched from just feet away.
Christian, wearing a white jail uniform and handcuffs, shouted at the end of an 85-second appearance at a Multnomah County courtroom a day after a grand jury indicted him on 15 counts relating to the May 26 stabbings and another incident.
“Not guilty of anything but defending myself from violent aggression by Micah Fletcher!” Christian shouted from behind a glass wall in the courtroom as two officers led him toward an exit.
As he shouted, Christian appeared to glance in the direction of Fletcher, the lone survivor among three men police say Christian stabbed on a Portland MAX train while the men were defending two teenage girls.
Fletcher, watching from a bench with others, rose shortly after Christian was led away. A sheriff’s deputy put his hand on Fletcher’s back, and the two men walked outside the courtroom together.
Fletcher, with a long, sutured knife wound visible on his neck, didn’t want to speak to reporters afterward, a deputy said. Fletcher had also attended Christian’s previous court appearance shortly after he was released from a hospital.
Wednesday’s court appearance had been listed as an arraignment. But a judge said during the proceeding — and before Christian’s outburst — that it will be continued to his next appearance on July 18.
He’s being held without opportunity for bail.
Christian’s latest outburst comes eight days after his initial court appearance, where he also yelled.
“Get out if you don’t like free speech!” he said then, along with, “You call it terrorism; I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”
The train attack
Christian, 35, faces state charges of aggravated murder (two counts), attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree intimidation (three counts), menacing (two counts) and unlawful use of a weapon (five counts).
Four charges are connected with an unspecified incident the day before the May 26 stabbings, the indictment says.
After boarding a MAX light-rail train on May 26, Christian went on a tirade directed at two African-American teenagers, one who was wearing a traditional Muslim hijab, according to witnesses and a police affidavit.
One of the girls, 16-year-old Destinee Mangum, told CNN affiliate KPTV that Christian “told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and told us we shouldn’t be here.”
Christian said, “Get the f*** out,” “Pay taxes,” “Go home, we need American here,” “I don’t care if you are ISIS,” and “F*** Saudi Arabia,” police said in a probable cause affidavit.
Police said the attacker fatally slashed the throats of Ricky Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, as they tried to defend the girls. Fletcher, 21, was stabbed in the neck but survived.
Another man, Shawn Forde, also defended the girls and tried to deescalate the situation, police said. Two of the charges against Christian — unlawful use of a weapon and menacing — relate to his alleged interaction with Forde, court documents show.
Charges in a May 25 incident
The indictment doesn’t detail the incident that happened the day before the stabbings.
Police have said they were investigating a May 25 incident in which video shows Christian on a Portland train, aiming pejoratives at a conductor.
“It looks like we have a Christian or Muslim (expletive) bus driver. I’ll stab you, too, (expletive),” he said on the video, which CNN affiliate KOIN obtained.
A woman who recorded the video, asking to be identified only as KK, told KOIN that Christian was upset, complaining about the city and “venting to his friend on the phone about some girl that just pepper-sprayed him.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether those incidents are related to the unspecified May 25 incident mentioned in Tuesday’s indictment.
Death penalty possible
Christian said at his May 30 court appearance that he was transient and “does not know the last time he had a permanent address.” Court documents from previous years show he lived with his parents.
The aggravated murder charges carry a maximum penalty of death. Oregon has not executed a prisoner in more than two decades.
Federal authorities are deciding whether to prosecute Christian for hate crimes.
This story has been updated to quote Christian accurately.