Suspect in Times Square machete attack faces federal charges


The 19-year-old suspect accused of attacking three police officers with a machete near Times Square on New Year’s Eve has been charged with federal crimes, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Trevor Bickford of Maine traveled to Manhattan specifically to kill Americans in the name of jihad, the DOJ said. Officers were posted on the corner of West 52nd and 8th Avenue after 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve when the attack occurred, ultimately ending with Bickford being shot in the shoulder.

The suspect allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” — an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great,” as he carried out the attack, federal officials said Tuesday. Two of the officers suffered head wounds in the attack. They were treated at Bellevue Hospital and released.

The DOJ said Bickford was charged with four counts of attempted murder of officers and employees of the U.S. government and persons assisting them, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He was placed in state custody and will be transported to Manhattan federal court at a later date to face the federal charges filed in the Southern District of New York.

“Bickford’s alleged attack in one of the most visited destinations in the world on its busiest night of the year ironically only served to spotlight the coordination, resolve, and dedication of American law enforcement to guard the wellbeing of the public,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “We sincerely thank our law enforcement partners for their outstanding work and bravery, and especially wish a full and speedy recovery to the officers injured in this senseless attack.”

He was already arraigned last week in state court on three counts of attempting to murder a police officer. If convicted of the top charge against him, Bickford faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Defense counsel Rosemary Vassallo-Vellucci of the Legal Aid Society requested that Bickford be released while he awaits trial due to his young age, the fact that this was his first arrest and because he has a job. The request was denied.

“For now, we ask the public to refrain from drawing hasty conclusions and to respect the privacy of our client’s family,” the Legal Aid Society said in a previous statement.

According to the complaint charging him, Bickford allegedly started consuming materials “espousing radical Islamic ideology, including materials promoting the Taliban and reflecting the teachings of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi” during the summer. By November, federal officials alleged he was interested in traveling to the Middle East to support the Taliban and dedicated himself to the mission of waging jihad against officials of governments he believed to be anti-Muslim, including the U.S. Government.

“As detailed in today’s complaint, we allege that the defendant plotted a jihad-inspired attack targeting U.S. government officials, and on December 31st, 2022, attacked three NYPD officers who were part of the joint federal-state law enforcement operation protecting the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “We are deeply grateful for the bravery of the officers who were injured in this horrible attack and who put their lives on the line every day to serve their communities.”

Contributed reporting by Isidoro Rodriguez.


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