Aaron Salazar
Aaron Salazar GoFundMe

It's now been two weeks since 22-year-old Aaron Salazar, a gay Portland State University student, was found horribly beaten and severely burned alongside Amtrak rails near Truckee, California. Despite having injuries doctors say were consistent with a beating, Amtrak police officers still say Salazar's wounds were likely the result of a suicide attempt.

“[Salazar] had several conversations with passengers and crew while aboard that train," said Amtrak Chief of Police Neil Trugman at a press conference in Reno today. “He shared with them a number of life concerns he was having. All indications right now appear that it was an attempted suicide.”

Salazar was traveling home to Portland from Colorado on May 15. He allegedly texted his grandmother that he had met a "friend" on the train, and they were planning on hanging out during a 10-hour-layover in Sacramento. Then, less than an hour later, railroad workers discovered his body next to the tracks outside of Truckee. Salazar was sent to a Reno hospital with a damaged brain stem, a broken pelvis, burns on his crotch and thighs, and a badly beaten face. He remains in the hospital's intensive care unit, and is still unable to communicate.

Trugman said Amtrak spoke with 300 people as part of the investigation into Salazar's injuries and has determined that "there's nothing to suggest criminal intent." This includes a railroad worker who, according to Trugman, saw Salazar through the train window when he pulled into the Truckee station said he looked "distraught." (As if that's a solid witness?)

Trugman suggests Salazar threw himself from the Amtrak train.

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Salazar's friends and family firmly believe he was the victim of a hate crime—and aren't convinced by Amtrak's conclusion.

“Not once did Aaron display any type of behavior that makes me feel like he would want to take his own life," Morgan Patterson, a friend of Salazar's from PSU, told the Los Angeles Blade. "He has so much to live for and has such a close bond with his family and friends. We would know if Aaron needed help.”

Today's statements on the investigation come after Oregon members of Congress called on Amtrak for a thorough investigation into Salazar's injuries.

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