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A Teenager At The Center Of The Portland Stabbing Attack Thanked The Men Who Died Trying To Defend Her

"They lost their lives because of me and my friend, and the way we looked. I just want to say thank you."

Posted on May 28, 2017, at 6:47 p.m. ET

Destinee Mangum, one of the targets of hate speech on a MAX train, thanks strangers for saving her life.

One of the teenagers at the center of Friday's train stabbing in Portland, Oregon, offered an emotional thanks to the two passengers who died after intervening against a man who had been hurling racist abuse at the women.

Destinee Mangum, 16, spoke to Fox 12 Oregon on Saturday, at times in tears.

"They lost their lives because of me and my friend, and the way we looked," she said. "I just want to say thank you to them and their family, and that I appreciate them. Without them, we probably would be dead right now."

Mangum said that she was riding the MAX train with a 17-year-old female friend when a man confronted the girls and began telling them that Muslims should die. Her friend is Muslim and was wearing a hijab, Mangum's mother told The Oregonian, but Mangum is not.

The girls moved away from him, but he continued to approach and scream at them, she said. He told them to go back to Saudi Arabia, and that they should kill themselves, Fox 12 reported.

Three men then intervened, and the man slashed them with a knife. Ricky Best, 53, and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed, and 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher was injured. The suspect, identified as white supremacist Jeremy Christian, was arrested after fleeing on foot and has been charged with aggravated murder.

"I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn't even know me," Mangum told Fox 12.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.