Even before their names were released, one word repeatedly came up to describe the men who were killed in a stabbing Friday on a light-rail train in Portland, Oregon: heroes.

They had tried to intervene, police said, after another passenger began “ranting and raving” and shouting anti-Muslim insults at two young women.

That’s when the ranting passenger turned his anger toward those who sought to calm him down. He fatally stabbed two men and seriously injured a third, police said, before fleeing the train on foot.

“Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn’t know against hatred,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement Saturday. “Their actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes.”

Police on Saturday identified the two slain victims as 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche.

The third victim, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, is being treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

“They were all attacked because they did the right thing,” Wheeler said.

Police arrested 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, of north Portland. Local media reports described Christian as a “known white supremacist” in the area, and his Facebook page showed a long history of posting racist and extremist beliefs.

Christian is being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree and one count of possesion of a restricted weapon as a felon.

The state medical examiner is conducting autopsies on Best and Namkai Meche, according to police.

On Saturday, Namkai Meche’s sister, Vajra Alaya-Maitreya, emailed a statement to The Washington Post, saying her brother lived “a joyous and full life” with an enthusiasm that was infectious.

“We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common,” she wrote. “In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward.”

Namkai Meche was a 2016 graduate of Reed College in Portland who majored in economics, according to a statement by the college.

The mayor on Saturday identified Best as an Army veteran, a city employee and a father of four. “He was an Army veteran killed on Memorial Day weekend,” Wheeler said at a news conference, his voice breaking.

According to the Associated Press, the FBI and the U.S. attorney for Oregon will work with Portland police on the case. The FBI said it’s too early to say whether the killings qualify as a federal hate crime, but U.S. attorney Billy Williams said Saturday, “There’s a day of reckoning coming, a day of accountability,” the AP reported.

Christian’s mother told the Huffington Post that she couldn’t imagine why her son would be involved in such an incident, “unless he was on drugs or something.”

“He’s been in prison. He’s always been spouting anti-establishment stuff,” Mary Christian told the news site Saturday. “But he’s a nice person. I just can’t imagine.”