TriMet adds security on trains, buses in wake of attack

Transit police, supervisors being asked to work extra hours

TriMet MAX / File photo
TriMet MAX / File photo

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TriMet said it will be taking immediate steps to ramp up security in the wake of a deadly stabbing on a MAX train Friday that has left community members shaken.

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane told KOIN 6 News what happened at the Hollywood Transit Center was unexplainable and horrific. He said it’s not just TriMet riders who feel unsettled because of the tragedy.

People placed flowers, candles, signs and painted rocks as a memorial at the Hollywood Transit Center, May 29, 2017. (KOIN)
People placed flowers, candles, signs and painted rocks as a memorial at the Hollywood Transit Center, May 29, 2017. (KOIN)

To prevent something similar from happening again, McFarlane said TriMet will be increasing man hours and the show of uniformed security on both MAX trains and buses. The agency currently has 61 transit police and around 75 transit supervisors. All of them are being asked to work more, if possible.

“People will see this additional presence on a daily basis,” McFarlane said. “We try to do that usually during the Rose Festival time, which we’re coming up on anyway. We’re expediting that and taking away any limits on overtime for those kinds of personnel.”

While most riders welcome the increased security presence, many are still questioning how something horrific could have happened on public transportation.

A woman who goes by the name KK told KOIN 6 News she was on another MAX train with the stabbing suspect the night before the deadly attack. She said he went on a racist rant when he got on the train and was showing signs of threatening behavior then, as well. She said riders moved to the other side of the train to get away from the man, and even reported him to the MAX driver.

KK said she doesn’t understand why he wasn’t detained that night.

“Most MAX drivers would have done something at that point, or being at the Gateway stop there’s tons of police there,” she said. “I don’t know why nothing happened.”

McFarlane said the agency is looking into exactly what happened.

“We’re all going to have to reach deep inside of ourselves to say, ‘How did this happen in our city and on our transit system?'” McFarlane said. “We know that we did the right thing in terms of follow up. I think the rest of it is still under investigation.”

Detectives are reviewing surveillance video from both days, and police are expected to release more details about how it all unfolded once the investigation is complete.

TriMet will hold a moment of silence Friday, June 2 at noon in honor of the victims:

“To honor the men who lost their lives and those forever affected by the tragic events on MAX last week, TriMet will observe a moment of silence at noon on Friday, June 2. We are asking all of our buses and trains to stop, safety permitting, for one minute in quiet reflection.

TriMet will stop MAX trains at the nearest station and buses will pull over at a stop or along the route at a safe place. All are invited to participate in a moment of silence onboard TriMet vehicles, at stations and stops or wherever they may be.

TriMet stands together with our community. We wish to pay respects and offer a small initial tribute to Mr. Best and Mr. Meche for their ultimate sacrifice, at to Mr. Fletcher as he recovers. We wish peace for those who are forever affected by this tragedy.” – Roberta Alstadt, TriMet