PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) – On a crowded Portland commuter train May 26, a selfless Catholic father of four stepped forward to calm a tense situation. He was that kind of guy.
Rick Best defended two women being accosted by a passenger yelling hate speech about Muslims and other groups. Best, a 53-year-old member of Christ the King Parish in Milwaukie, Oregon, would die for his noble deed.
In less than a minute, he and another defender were slain, slashed in the neck in front of horrified onlookers. A third man survived the knife attack.
Best’s funeral Mass is set for June 5 at Christ the King Church.
The accused killer, 35-year-old Jeremy Christian, had been on a racially charged rampage. With a history of police run-ins going back 15 years at least, he was caught on camera in April, draped in an American flag and repeatedly yelling bigoted epithets during a demonstration in Portland. On his Facebook page, he posted a photo of himself performing the Nazi salute and declared himself a white supremacist.
The day before the killings, Christian hurled a bottle at a black woman at another rail station.
On the unseasonably warm afternoon of May 26, one of the young women who became Christian’s focus on the packed train was wearing a hijab; the other was black.
When the bloodied train stopped at the next station, Christian escaped, but police captured him soon after. He remained in custody in Multnomah County Jail, indicted on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation and one count of being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.