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PORTLAND, Ore. (CBSMiami/AP) — A 35-year-old man identified by authorities in the fatal stabbing of two people on a Portland train has a criminal record that includes stints in prison.

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Court records show that Jeremy Joseph Christian was convicted of robbery, kidnapping and a weapons charge in 2002. Christian is being held in the Multnomah County Jail on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder.

Police say two people died Friday and another was hurt in the stabbing after Christian yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

Police say that before the stabbing, the assailant on the train was ranting on many topics, using “hate speech or biased language.”

One person was dead at the scene and another died at a hospital. The third person was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

“In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at,” police Sgt. Pete Simpson told The Oregonian. “They were attacked viciously.”

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It wasn’t clear why the man was yelling, Simpson said.

“He was talking about a lot of different things, not just specifically anti-Muslim,” Simpson said.

The attack happened on a MAX train as it headed east. A train remained stopped on the tracks at a transit center which was closed while police investigated.

Evelin Hernandez, a 38-year-old resident of Clackamas, Oregon, told the newspaper she was on the train when the man began making racist remarks to the women. A group of men tried to quiet him and he stabbed them, she said.

“It’s horrific,” Simpson said. “There’s no other word to describe what happened today.”

Millions of Muslims marked the start of Ramadan Friday, a time of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.

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