The supremacist murderer, who fatally stabbed two passengers who tried to stop him from harassing two Muslim women, was charged on Saturday.
Police arrested Jeremy Christian, a 35-year-old convicted felon soon after he killed retired Sgt. Ricky Best, 53, and Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, on Friday as they came to the defense of a pair of Muslim passengers and injured a third aboard a commuter light-rail train in Portland, Oregon.
Christian started shouting ethnic and religious slurs, apparently at the two young women, one of whom wore a Muslim head-covering, the Portland Police Department said in a statement.
Three men who intervened to stop the assailant's hate-filled tirade were stabbed.
Ricky Best, 53 (R) Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23 (L)
A senior researcher with the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a blog post, said Christian's Facebook page showed he held "some racist and other extremist beliefs."
The attack unfolded hours before the start of Ramadan, Islam's holy month, when most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims observe a daily religious fast.
"It's too early to say whether last night's violence was an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime," Loren Cannon, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oregon told a news conference on Saturday, adding the bureau had joined the investigation.
Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, Oregon died at the scene, while Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, of Southeast Portland died at a hospital, police said. A third victim, Micah David-Cole Fletcher of 21, Southeast Portland, remained in a local hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Micah Fletcher, 21
Christian was booked on two counts of aggravated murder and charges of attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, and was ordered held without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.
The women, who had left the train before officers arrived, were later in contact with authorities, according to police, who have not released their identities.
Dyjuana Hudson, the mother of one of them, told The Oregonian newspaper her 16-year-old daughter, who is black, boarded the train with a Muslim friend, also a teenager, who was wearing a hijab.
The attacker approached the girls while screaming at them, Hudson told the newspaper, relaying an account her daughter had given her. "He was saying that Muslims should die," Hudson said.
On Friday, police said detectives wanted to speak to the two women. A detective later took a statement from her family, Hudson told the paper. She could not be reached for comment.
Police declined to release details of Christian's criminal history, but the newspaper reported he had been convicted of robbery, kidnapping and weapon charges, citing court records.
In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations blamed an increase in anti-Muslim incidents in part on President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric.
The administration has said that while it strongly opposes Islamist militants, it has no quarrel with Islam.