PORTLAND • Even before their names were released, one word repeatedly came up to describe the men who were killed in a stabbing last week on a light-rail train in Portland, Oregon - heroes.
They had tried to intervene, police said, after another passenger began "ranting and raving" and shouting anti-Muslim insults at two young women last Friday.
That was when the ranting man turned his anger towards those who sought to calm him down. He fatally stabbed two men and injured a third, police said, before fleeing the train.
"Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn't know against hatred," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement last Saturday.
Police identified the two slain victims as Mr Ricky John Best, 53, and Mr Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23.
The third victim, Mr Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, is being treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.
Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn't know against hatred.
PORTLAND MAYOR TED WHEELER, on the three men who tried to calm down a man shouting anti-Muslim insults on a train.
Police arrested Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of north Portland. Local media reports described Christian as a "known white supremacist" in the area, and his Facebook page showed a long history of posting racist and extremist beliefs.
According to witnesses, a white male passenger riding an eastbound MAX train last Friday began yelling what "would best be characterised as hate speech towards a variety of ethnicities and religions", police said. Some of the slurs were directed at two female passengers, one of whom was wearing a hijab, according to police.
Christian is being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree, and one count of possession of a restricted weapon as a felon.
The stabbing attack shocked the city and sent those who knew the victims into mourning.
In an e-mail last Saturday, Mr Namkai Meche's sister, Ms Vajra Alaya-Maitreya, said her brother lived "a joyous and full life" with an enthusiasm that was infectious.
"We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common," she wrote.
Mr Namkai Meche was a 2016 graduate of Reed College in Portland who majored in economics.
The other fatality, Mr Best, "was an army veteran killed on Memorial Day weekend", Mayor Wheeler said, his voice breaking.
Christian's mother told The Huffington Post that she could not imagine why her son would be involved in this, "unless he was on drugs or something".
"He's been in prison. He's always been spouting anti-establishment stuff," Mrs Mary Christian told the news site. "But he's a nice person. I just can't imagine."