The parents of Aaron Salazar, the gay Portland State University student found severely injured near an Amtrak station on May 15, have issued a response to the Amtrak police investigating his case.
The statement comes on the heels of a Tuesday press conference where Amtrak police maintained its original conclusion that Salazar had attempted to take his own life at the Truckee, CA train station—and that nothing about the incident suggested criminal intent. His friends and family, however, still suspect Salazar may have been the victim of a hate crime.
Here's how Salazar's parents, Damion Salazar and Angie Barnett, have responded:
As Aaron’s father and mother, we are releasing our official first public statement on what has happened with our son. We have many problems with Amtrak’s press conference today. First and foremost, Amtrak is a for-profit company that is currently investigating its own case to prevent any liability.
From the very start, they ruled this case an attempted suicide. Their investigators gave us misleading information, including telling us that they had a witness who saw Aaron jump out a window on the train.
When we fact-checked their claim and confronted the detective, he simply backpedaled his statement. Amtrak’s investigators only investigated the case as an attempt at suicide.
Second, regarding the Amtrak chief of police’s statement—his claims about Aaron’s injuries falling from a train are not consistent with what anyone who has seen Aaron can attest to. For one, those burns that were supposedly from jumping out of a train are not consistent with the facts because Aaron’s jeans were not damaged and his injuries themselves do not match jumping out of a train.
We are also surprised by this false theory because they have never had medical experts examine his body to determine the cause of his injuries. Their form of investigation has been little more than a smear campaign to sweep Aaron’s story under the rug like Robin Putnam’s case a few years ago.
Salazar's parents are referring to the 2012 disappearance of 25-year-old Robin Putnam on an Amtrak train headed from California to Colorado. Amtrak staff said Putnam had gotten off the train at Salt Lake City, leaving all of his possessions behind. Three years later, Putnam's body was found in Elko, Nevada. According to Putnam's family, Amtrak also claimed Putnam died from suicide—a conclusion the Putnams also disagree with.