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Portland suspect in 2 slayings on train is known for hate speech

  • Author: Allan Brettman, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
  • Updated: May 27, 2017
  • Published May 27, 2017

PORTLAND, Oregon — Jeremy Joseph Christian, the man accused of aggravated murder in the brutal knife slayings of two good Samaritans on the MAX, has described himself as a sociopath and threatened to kill or stab people in Facebook postings online.

"I AM TROUBLE," he said in an April comment.

He has shared anti-Muslim memes, espoused Nazi beliefs and called Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh a "true patriot."

Christian, 35, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder early Saturday morning, records show. He was also arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor charges, according to records. He's being held without bail.

He has a criminal history, including felony robbery, kidnapping and weapon convictions, records show. When he was 20 years old, he was shot in the face by Portland police after he robbed a convenience store.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, Oregon is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters May 27, 2017. Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

On his Facebook page, Christian has spoken of his Nazi sympathies and posted a picture of Adolf Hitler in an album he called "Good Stuff." The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, said his posts reflected "an individual all over the political spectrum but indicates that he holds some racist and other extremist beliefs."

In one post, he says: "I want a job in Norway cutting off the heads of people that Circumcize Babies….Like if you agree!!!"

In March, he told someone on Facebook: "Since you brought up Violence I'm gonna stab some masked up bitchs protesting Black Metal shows as soon as they touch me."

Last December, he posted a photo of the Jonestown Massacre, saying, "I hold Revolutionary Suicide in the Highest Esteem!!!"

Christian's friends on Facebook unfollowed him throughout the day Saturday. More than 20 had unfriended him by midday.

Christian was a participant in the April 29 "March for Free Speech" on 82nd Avenue in Montavilla. He posted an OregonLive video of the event to his Facebook page, referencing himself as "the Lizard King" as he walked among fellow protesters holding American flags and "Trump Make America Great Again" flags.

"Nobody likes me," Christian wrote when he shared the video.

Another video of the event shows Christian, standing in a Burger King parking lot and wrapped in a Revolutionary War-era American flag, casting Nazi salutes while shouting: "Die Muslims!"

Federal prosecutors are in contact with the FBI and local law enforcement to consider whether hate crime or civil rights charges may be added against Jeremy Christian, Oregon's U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said Saturday.

"There's certainly a potential federal crimes could be added," Williams said. "We will look at all avenues working with our local partners. We just need to led the investigation progress."

Williams was headed Saturday afternoon for a debriefing with the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office and Portland Police Bureau.

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said Saturday morning police are "familiar with the (April 29) incident," and that "certainly the detectives will be looking into his background."

Portland police chief Mike Marshman sent a note to Muslim community leaders assuring them that investigators were working on the case and adding, "With Ramadan beginning this evening, please know that the Portland Police Bureau stands by your side and will have extra police patrols for you."

On May 12, 2002, Christian handcuffed the owner of a North Portland market to a counter and stole cash and cigarettes.

The robbery at Ed's Market, a convenience store at North Lombard Street and Vancouver Avenue, occurred shortly after the store's 10 p.m. closing. Owner Bob Sung said at the time he was staying late to finish paperwork when a man walked in wearing a black ski mask, with openings cut out for the eyes, nose and mouth.

He looked around the store to see whether anyone else was inside and then walked out.

"I immediately recognized him. I know all the customers' faces," Sung told The Oregonian at the time. "I thought he was just joking or kidding. But then he walked back in."

North Precinct Officer Chris Devlin fired three shots as he was chasing Christian, striking him in his cheek. He was then brought to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, in serious condition.

The two men killed in the stabbing on the MAX train Friday were trying to intervene as another man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab, police have said.

The suspect's mother, Mary Christian, told the Huffington Post that "I can't imagine he would do anything like this, unless he was on drugs or something."

"He's been in prison, he's always been spouting anti-establishment stuff, but he's a nice person," she said. "I just can't imagine."

Isaiah Bostic, who attended Applegate Elementary with Christian but later lost touch, said he seemed like a regular kid when they were growing up. "I would never think he was that kind of dude," Bostic said. "I don't remember nothing like that."

Neil Brookins said when he first heard about the stabbing, he immediately wondered if it was Christian. Then, when he learned the suspect had been ranting, he became really worried.

His worst suspicions, it appears, have turned out to be true.

Just last week, Brookins said, Christian came to his house and was acting strangely.

"He was being really wild. He couldn't stop talking," Brookins said. "He was almost talking to himself, ranting to himself."

Nobody answered the door Saturday afternoon at what is believed to be Christian's home, a two-story house on the corner of North Albina and Morgan.
Potted flowers and plants lined the front of the house. A window on the side of the house was propped up with a running fan.

A BMW bike with a for-sale sign dating it to 1976 was parked in front of the house, behind a white Chevy Cavalier.

A neighbor said there was nothing extraordinary about the family that lived across the street, where Christian lived with his parents.

"It's just the house on the corner," she said, declining to provide her name
Friday marked the start of Ramadan, a month-long fast observed by most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims. Portland is home to a rough estimate of about 50,000 Muslims of different ethnicities.

One of the men was pronounced deceased on the train, the other died at a hospital. A third passenger who tried to help was also stabbed, but is expected to survive.

The suspect was ranting about many things, using "hate speech or biased language," and at one point focused on the young women, Simpson said in a news conference Friday evening at the Hollywood/Northeast 42nd Avenue Transit Center.

Officers arrested the suspect as he ran from the Hollywood transit station into the neighborhood near Providence Portland Medical Center in Northeast Portland. A video appears to show the suspect taunting police officers before his arrest.

Simpson thanked witnesses who called 911 and reported where the suspect went and what he was wearing.

"It was really critical to us taking this man into custody. (He was) obviously very dangerous based on his actions," he said.

Police ask anyone who has information about the stabbing to call a non-emergency line, 503-823-3333. A vigil is planned for Saturday night at the transit center.

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