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Friends of Oregon Man Stabbed to Death After Defending LGBTQ+ Friend Say "He Was a Protector"

"I know he was probably just trying to de-escalate and get this person to move on,” Colin Smith’s friend said of the stab victim. “And that's when he was killed."

By Elisabeth Ford
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

Family and friends of an Oregon man who was fatally stabbed at a bar said he died defending his friend from being harassed.

Colin Smith, 32, was stabbed to death at The High Dive bar in Southeast Portland's Buckman neighborhood after he and a group of friends were being harassed by a man using homophobic slurs, Smith's loved ones told local station KGW.

"I know he was probably just trying to de-escalate and get this person to move on,” Smith’s friend Paulina Solis told the station. “And that's when he was killed."

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Smith had just finished a serving shift at Ox Restaurant when he decided to end the night at a bar with some friends.

When a man targeted an LGBTQ+ member of the group with homophobic remarks, according to friends, Smith stepped in, resulting in him being stabbed several times.

“He was a protector,” Solis told The Oregonian. “He died being the person that we all knew him to be.”

Colin Smith

According to the newspaper, police responded to The High Dive around 1:49 a.m. June 2. The assailant had fled the scene before officers arrived.

Police arrested 24-year-old Rahnique U. Jackson of Portland on June 7, KGW reported. He was booked on second-degree murder charges and has since been indicted on an additional second-degree hate crime charge.

Smith’s sister, Danielle Smith, told The Oregonian that he had been a server for some time, but dreamed of eventually opening his own restaurant.

“He was going to do something great,” she said.

Solis and Smith had previously been in a relationship, but stayed close friends after breaking up, according to the newspaper. She said Smith was an empathetic person who made known to everyone that he crossed paths with, what they meant to him.

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“Everyone felt like Colin was such a bright light for them,” Solis said. “If they knew that they were going to see Colin, it was something to look forward to... He was so loved.”

Solis heard the news of Smith’s death from his mother, Julie Smith, who said she and her son were extremely close, talking over the phone twice a day.

“He was an amazing person,” Julie said. “Was he perfect? No. But I always said that even when Colin was bad, he was good. Because he was honest.”

Greg Denton, the owner of Ox Restaurant, said Smith acted as a “caretaker” of the restaurant staff and guests. He always made sure the kitchen staff had something to drink and would often cover shifts for fellow servers, according to The Oregonian.

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“He was a lovely, generous, amazing human that will be missed dearly and deeply, by not just ourselves but our entire Ox family,” Denton said.

Denton and his wife set up a GoFundMe for Smith’s family, which has received more than $26,000 in donations as of Friday.

“To help his family with this tremendously difficult time, please donate what you can, anything that may help, even if it is just a share or a kind word about this truly special person,” the fundraiser reads.

The fundraiser page also included a message from Smith’s mother, who stated, "There's nothing any of us can do now, except to honor his legacy. Make a commitment to do something nice for somebody, even if that means just smiling as you're walking down the street."

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