Rick Best, Catholic father of four and military veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, died this weekend defending a Muslim passenger on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon. He was fifty-three years old. The tragic irony of the story is that a retired military officer who survived combat missions overseas comes home to die of a knife wound from a domestic terrorist, claiming to be a patriot.
The incident involved 35-year-old Jeremy Christian, a self-described white supremacist who was screaming epithets at a hijab-wearing young woman on the commuter train and a black woman sitting near her. The entire incident lasted only minutes. Best tried to intervene to calm the situation down, but Christian wasn’t the type to be calmed down. He lashed out, killing Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrridin Namkai Meche, a graduate of Reed College in Portland. A third man was stabbed, but he survived.
Best leaves behind a wife and four children, ages 12 to 19. Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample said, “Pray for those whose hearts and minds may be hardened to the love of God and act out in such violent and hateful ways.” Pray, too, for the men who gave their lives to protect the right of a Muslim and a black woman to ride a commuter train.