A 19-year-old man named Trevor Bickford is accused of assaulting New York Police Department (NYPD) officers using a machete on New Year's Eve. Prosecutors say that he traveled to the city "in order to kill people and carry out Jihad."
Alleged Islamic extremist identified as 19-year-old Trevor Bickford who attacked NYPD cops with machete was on FBI watchlist.#nypd #NewYear #TimesSquare#breaking #Manhattan #terrorism #stabbing #NewYork #nyc pic.twitter.com/5flgMpTXD7
— NY Actions (@NY_ACTIONS) January 1, 2023
According to the authorities, just after 10 pm, Bickford went to the Times Square checkpoint. When he reached the security area, he pulled out a machete and started attacking the police officers. The attacker hit one officer with the blade. He struck another officer in the head with the handle. Finally, he swung his weapon at a third officer, who, in order to neutralize Bickford shot him in the shoulder, according to the reports of the law enforcement sources and the NYPD.
The department said that the three injured NYPD officers were hospitalized in stable condition and were later released.
Prosecutor Lucy Nicholas said in court, "The defendant admitted that he purposefully waited until he saw a moment when the officer was isolated and not near any civilian when he could attack him."
The prosecutor further said that the accused tried to snatch a gun from an officer during the assault but could not get it out of the holster.
A criminal complaint report claims that during his interview, Bickford told the authorities that he said "Allahu Akbar" before walking up to the officer and hitting him with the machete. The accused thought every government official was his target and believed they "cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel," said prosecutors.
Sources said that Bickford was admitted to Bellevue Hospital, where he was treated for the gunshot wound. He appeared in court through a video feed.
The accused was charged with three counts of first-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault, two counts of attempted assault in the first degree and three counts of second-degree assault. After that, he was taken back into custody, and no appeal was made.
Bickford's lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, Rosemary Vassallo-Vellucci, said her client should be "presumed innocent." She argued that the man should get bail once he acknowledges his acts. His age and more than 24 hours of custody period were considered. He also doesn't have any arrest record.
Vassallo-Vellucci further mentioned Bickford's relationship with the community and told the judge how he recently lived with his family while working at a golf course.
Bickford "has no prior contact with the criminal legal system," said The Legal Aid Society. The group said that it just received the details about the case from District Attorney's office, and after a thorough investigation, they will have more to say. "For now, we ask the public to refrain from drawing hasty conclusions and to respect the privacy of our client's family," the group added.
Bickford was on the FBI's watchlist before the attack. He was interviewed a month before the incident by federal agents in Maine after saying he wanted to travel overseas to help his Taliban Muslim brethren in Afghanistan. Bickford also said that he was willing to die for the cause. His mother and grandmother reported him to the police, worried deeply about such comments.
Sources say that after a broader investigation, Bickford was placed on the terrorist watch list.
However, since the Taliban is not designated a foreign terrorist entity, traveling to Afghanistan to join the group does not come under the federal crime of "attempted material support of a terrorist group."