MAX passenger lunged at rider unprovoked, stabbed him to death on train in NE Portland, records show

Shondel Lamar Larkin arraignment

Shondel Larkin, 51, was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge during a hearing Mon., April 1, 2024.Zane Sparling/The Oregonian

A 51-year-old man who is accused of murdering a fellow MAX train rider told police he thought he heard voices stating that the victim was going to kill him before he lunged at the victim with a knife without provocation, according to court documents.

Shondel Lamar Larkin told investigators after the Friday evening stabbing that he had been diagnosed with a mental illness, had stopped taking his medications a few months ago and thought people in general wanted to kill him because he’s a convicted sex offender, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the prosecution.

Although video surveillance from the train appears to show no interaction between the men before the attack, witnesses said they heard Larkin exclaim “You said you were going to kill me!” Larkin told police he thought the victim was wearing an earbud and had stated into it “the suspect is right here.”

Court documents name the victim as Michael Matthew Brady. He had boarded the train at Pioneer Courthouse Square and was sitting across the aisle from Larkin when Larkin got up and began stabbing him, the affidavit states. Brady, who was unarmed, tried to defend himself as he staggered out of his seat and to the train’s doors, the document says.

Larkin stopped stabbing at some point, Brady leaned against the doors and then fell out onto the platform when the train stopped and the doors opened, the document states.

Police officers were the first to arrive at the MAX station shortly after 6 p.m. The officers and then medics from Portland Fire & Rescue and American Medical Response administered life-saving measures, but “the victim succumbed to his injuries,” according to the affidavit.

Police found Larkin still on the train at the 82nd Avenue station at Northeast Halsey Street. Larkin’s clothes were stained with blood and he was armed with a knife, which he dropped upon police orders, the affidavit states. He told police he had blanked out before the stabbing.

Larkin was arraigned Monday on charges of second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.

Court records state his housing status as homeless.

Larkin appears to be the same man who was arrested in 2022 for allegedly peeping into the windows of a woman’s home in Culver City, Calif.

In July 2023, Larkin was apparently living in the Portland area but extradited to California on a warrant stating that he was a fugitive. It’s unclear what happened in California court after that. But by December, law enforcement in California posted Larkin’s photo on a “Wanted” web page, stating that they’d issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to comply with electronic monitoring.

The last time anyone died by homicidal violence while riding TriMet was in August 2021, when a 44-year-old homeless man was shot and killed by another passenger on a bus along Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard after getting into a confrontation with a third passenger. Wayne Conrad Thompson, who according to court records had been struggling with his mental health, is being prosecuted under accusations of second-degree murder.

In May 2017, Jeremy Christian launched into a racist rant and then stabbed three fellow riders in their necks on a Northeast Portland MAX train, killing two of them. Christian was sentenced in 2020 to life in prison with no possibility of release.

Friday’s homicide on MAX follows a string of relatively recent violent assaults on TriMet buses, trains or property. The attacks include two teens stabbed on a MAX train, a bus driver knifed repeatedly by a passenger who had been awoken after the bus driver told all passengers it was time to get off, a 3-year-old who was pushed onto the MAX tracks by a woman struggling with mental illness and a man whose ear was reportedly bitten off and his face chewed on by a stranger on a MAX platform, all in late 2022 or 2023.

In December 2023, a 23-year-old man was stabbed at or near the Providence Park MAX station, and he died after he stepped through the open doors of a MAX train that had stopped there. His alleged attacker has been charged with second-degree murder.

Despite those incidents, calls reporting assaults on TriMet’s buses, trains and platforms have been in sharp decline – from about 250 in 2021 to about 100 in 2023 in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

– Aimee Green covers breaking news and the justice system. Reach her at 503-294-5119, or @o_aimee.

Reporter Zane Sparling contributed to this story.

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Aimee Green

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