Friends say Colin Smith, who was fatally stabbed in Portland, Oregon, on July 2, died protecting a friend who was facing anti-LGBTQ bullying.
Paulina Solis, a friend of Smith’s, said he left work the night of July 1 and went to a bar with friends. according to KGW-TV, the NBC Portland affiliate. Solis was not there, but he said the people who told him a man began to harass one of Smith’s friends and hurled homophobic slurs, according to The Oregonian.
Smith, 32, began defending his friend and was stabbed multiple times by the man around 1:49 a.m. local time on July 2, KGW-TV reported. Smith had already died of his injuries when officers arrived. according to the Portland Police Bureau.
“He was a protector,” Solís told The Oregonian. «He died the person we all knew he was.»
The suspect fled the scene but was arrested on July 7 by the US Marshals Service, according to authorities.
Mike Schmidt, Multnomah County District Attorney announced on thursday that a grand jury had indicted 24-year-old Rahnique Usef Jackson on three counts related to Smith’s death: second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon, and second-degree bias crime.
NBC News could not reach Jackson for comment, and it was not clear if he had an attorney.
In the days since Smith’s death, many friends and family members have shared stories about him, describing him as a loving friend and relative, and a dedicated employee of the Ox restaurant in Portland, where he worked as a server.
When asked to describe her brother, Dani Smith said one word: «Hero.»
“Everybody loved him, and it showed in his memorial,” Dani Smith told NBC News in a phone interview. “It’s one thing when it comes to your friends and family, but all of his employers loved him. It was just like a big revelation that, oh my gosh, they really loved him, and that was because he was kind, patient, understanding, accepting of everyone, funny, handsome.»
Her brother, she said, wanted to open a restaurant, and the two had discussed him opening one in Cornwall, England, where she lives. She also said that he, too, always wanted to have a food truck that served Mexican-inspired food, because his family recipe was chile relleno.
Dani Smith said her family doesn’t want her brother’s story to create fear. Rather, the family is asking people to extend love and kindness to those around them.
“Call a friend in need, make a donation to the SPCA, just smile at a neighbor,” he said. «That’s where the change really starts to happen, and standing up for people.»
Devin Lee, a friend of Colin’s who was also a waiter at the Ox Restaurant, told Eater that Smith would often check with his co-workers to see if they needed help.
“He was quick to tell you that he loved you, all the time,” Lee told Eater. “He told all the boys at Ox. He would catch them off guard. That was just Colin; he just loved ”.
Greg Denton, the co-owner of the Ox Restaurant, told Eater that Smith initially applied to be a cook, but when Denton met him, he was so easy to talk to and personable that Denton decided he would be a better fit for him. the front of the restaurant.
“He made sure that everything he did during the night was with others in mind,” Denton told Eater. “I have a position in the kitchen, where I scrape the dishes. Every time I was there, he would say, ‘I appreciate you, chef.’”
Smith’s mother, Julie Smith, said in a statement shared with NBC News that her son was «my friend, my confidante, my reality and my miracle.» She said that he loved hosting dinner parties, his cat Smokey, and that she would miss his daily phone calls.
«I will never mourn the selfless soul of my beautiful child, who cannot be extinguished by death and will live forever,» she said in the statement.
She said she used to ask him and his sister what they wanted to be when they grew up, and Smith would tell her he wanted to be «a rainbow.»
«We will meet again; I will meet you over the rainbow,» he said.