FBI investigating whether MAX stabbing attack was federal hate crime

Police investigate a stabbing that left two dead, two injured Friday, May 26, 2017 at the Hollywood Transit Center. (Photo: Chopper 2/KATU)

Members of the Muslim Community gathered for a prayer and vigil Saturday at the Muslim Education Trust for the victims in Friday night's stabbing attack.

Portland Police said Joseph Jeremy Christian was yelling hate speech at two Muslim women aboard the MAX train near the Hollywood Transit Center. Investigators say three men intervened and were stabbed by Christian. Two of them were killed and another was injured.

READ MORE: MAX stabbing attack suspect facing murder, hate crime charges

"It's very important that we stay focused and positive and the Koran teaches us if somebody attacks you verbally you'll say peace be upon you you let them say whatever and then you ignore them," Wajdi Said, a Muslim community leader, told KATU.

Saturday, FBI Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon said federal investigators were involved in the case to see if the case qualified as a federal hate crime.

"It's too early to say whether last night to violence meets the legal definition of an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime," Cannon explained.

READ MORE: Who are the victims? Mother identifies son killed in stabbing during heart-wrenching post

The US Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy Williams is also involved in the case. He said he will review the case to see a hate crime charge is applicable.

"We review the evidence and work with our state partners and federal partners to review whether or not a hate crime can be successfully prosecuted, Williams said.

Portland Police said the investigation is ongoing. Christian has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder.

"When you incite hate, when you are provoking hate crimes, you are provoking terrorism... and this is an act of terrorism," Said said.

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