What happened: The nation recoiled in horror as the blood of three good Samaritans was splashed across the inside of an eastbound rush-hour MAX train pulling into the Hollywood Transit Center.

After a brief chase, police arrested the slasher who had stabbed three men 11 times in 11 seconds, cutting their throats. His name: Jeremy Christian, 35, a disturbed lover of comic books who'd earlier spent eight years in prison.

Witnesses told police Christian had verbally abused two teenage girls of color, one of them wearing a hijab. "Go home, we need American here," he said to the girls, according to court records. "I don't care if you are ISIS."

Stabbing victim Micah Fletcher watches as suspect Jeremy Christian is arraigned on a 15-count indictment in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland on June 7, 2017. Stephanie Yao Long/Staff
Stabbing victim Micah Fletcher watches as suspect Jeremy Christian is arraigned on a 15-count indictment in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland on June 7, 2017. Stephanie Yao Long/Staff

When three men tried to intercede, Christian whipped out his knife and attacked.
One man, Micah Fletcher, survived. Rick John Best, 53, a city of Portland employee, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, a recent Reed College graduate, died on the train.

Christian, whose trial won't start until 2019, faces aggravated murder charges. His defense team will argue he was a man whose mind was destroyed by the prison system, that he was cornered and shoved by some of the men he attacked, and that he was upset in part because his mother had demanded he find a new home for his 15,000 comic books.

Why it mattered: The attack transfixed Portlanders and people across the nation because the train seemed to hold the best and worst of this city. The courage of the three men who stepped in to protect the two women intersected with an unhinged man with ugly, extremist views.

Jo Ann Hardesty, a longtime civil rights activist who heads the NAACP of Portland, says the killings revealed hatred in our midst that many people had tried to ignore.

(Gio Hernandez)
(Gio Hernandez)

"This incident," says Hardesty of the MAX killings, "is much more of who we are than we might have thought."

But the full ramifications of the killings would only be made clear one week later, on June 3.