Nearly $1 million has been donated to multiple fundraisers in support of the victims of Friday’s train stabbing in Portland, Oregon, and thousands of dollars continue to pour in every hour for the three men being described as “heroes.”
As of this writing Monday morning, more than $880,000 has been raised across three fundraising drives for Rick Best, 53, Micah Fletcher, 21, and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche. Police reportedly said the three intervened on a Portland MAX train about 4:30 p.m. Friday as 35-year-old Joseph Christian harassed two teenage girls, “ranting and raving” at them and using “hate speech.”
Christian allegedly stabbed all three men who attempted to help, killing Best and Namkai-Meche. Fletcher remained hospitalized Monday with non-life-threatening injuries.
“Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example, an inspiration to us all,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said, according to the Associated Press. “They are heroes.”
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One witness, Rachel Macy, told local TV station KOIN that she was with Namkai-Meche in his last moments alive on the train.
“I just didn’t want him to be alone,” she said. “I took my shirt off and put it on him. We held it together, I just prayed, all I could do was pray.”
“He said, ‘Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them,’ ” she said. “He was a beautiful man, that’s what I want people to know.”
The suspect is in custody on charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation in the second degree and felon in possession of a weapon, authorities previously told PEOPLE. He has reportedly not entered a plea, and it is unclear if he has retained an attorney.
A third fundraiser, “Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes,” will “help with the immediate, short-term needs of the grieving families.”
“We wish to respond to hate with love, to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action,” the campaign organizers wrote.
As donations continue to rise, the fundraisers have lifted their target goals to match. One of the GoFundMes set out to raise $110,000 — and is now nearing $400,000.
“I am impressed and proud of our city’s generosity,” the organizer wrote. “These guys stood up for what was right and paid the ultimate price. I’m glad we are helping their families as a community.”
One of the two girls being harassed has also spoken publicly.
“I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me,” a visibly emotional 16-year-old Destinee Mangum told local TV station KPTV.
Mangum described the harassment she faced on the train before the stabbings, saying Christian “told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country.”
“He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves,” she said.
Then one of the trio interceded and said, “You can’t disrespect these young ladies like that,” Mangum said, and an argument ensued.
“Me and my friend were going to get off the MAX and then we turned around while they were fighting and he just started stabbing people,” she said. “It was just blood everywhere and we just started running for our lives.”
Her voice sometimes cracking as she spoke, Mangum said the experience was “haunting her.”
“They didn’t even know me,” she said, “and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look.”