A 19-year-old suspect accused of assaulting three New York City Police Department uniformed officers on New Year’s Eve told police he planned to travel to the city to “kill people and carry out jihad” , prosecutors said.
Trevor Bickford was charged with attempted first-degree murder and attempted assault by the Manhattan District Attorney after he allegedly wielded a machete-style knife and attacked officers several blocks north of Times Square as revelers gathered to celebrate the see the ball fall.
The Maine teen shouted “Allahu Akbar” before hitting an officer on the head with a knife known as a kukri, according to a recently unsealed criminal indictment.
“I wanted to kill an officer in uniform,” says the charge Mr Bickford told police. “I saw the officer and waited until he was alone. I said ‘Allah Akbar.’ I walked over to him and hit him on the head with a kukri.”
He dropped the knife while attacking another officer and unsuccessfully tried to grab the officer’s firearm, the document said. One officer suffered a basilar skull fracture but has been released from the hospital along with the other officers, one of whom suffered a minor laceration.
“The defendant admitted that he deliberately waited until he saw a moment when the officer was isolated and not near a civilian at which to attack him,” assistant district attorney Lucy Nicholas told the court.
Prosecutors argued that Mr Bickford believed government officials, including police officers, “cannot be true Muslims because of US support for Israel”.
Mr Bickford appeared in court for his arraignment via video from his hospital bed as he recovers from a gunshot wound to the shoulder after an officer fired at him during the incident.
He is charged with attempted murder, assault and attempted assault, and faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.
Mr Bickford, who did not enter a plea, was ordered by a judge to remain in custody without bail as he is considered a “significant” flight risk. Prosecutors allege he planned to travel across the US and bought a train ticket to travel to Miami.
He is represented by a lawyer from the Legal Aid Society, who pointed to his lack of criminal history and his job at a Maine golf course.
“Trevor Bickford, who is just a teenager, has no prior contact with the criminal justice system,” said a statement from the organization, which also criticized his arraignment days after the incident “after languishing in NYPD custody for nearly four days despite an established court requirement that an arraignment be held within 24 hours of arrest.
“We will have more to say about this matter after a thorough investigation and investigation,” the statement added. “For now, we ask the public not to jump to conclusions and to respect the privacy of our client’s family.”
Law enforcement officials told several news outlets, including NBC News and UKTN, that Mr. Bickford was on the FBI’s radar at least several weeks before the attack and was interviewed by the FBI in December after he reportedly planned to travel abroad to help others willing to die for his cause.
His family reportedly became concerned after he expressed his willingness to travel to Afghanistan and join the Taliban, prompting them to report him to police on Dec. 10 at their home in Wells, Maine, according to UKTN.