Machete Attack-Police

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell addresses the media during a news conference Saturday. A Wells man is facing charges in the attack on three police officers at the New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City. NYPD via Associated Press

The Wells man accused of attacking police officers with a machete near Times Square on New Year’s Eve remains hospitalized in New York City and has not yet been arraigned.

Trevor Bickford, 19, is facing charges of assault and attempted murder and is likely to face additional federal charges. An arraignment had not been scheduled, a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Police say Bickford attacked a group of NYPD officers with a machete at around 10 p.m. Saturday just outside the security perimeter for the New Year’s celebration in Times Square. Two officers were struck in the head before Bickford was shot in the shoulder by a third officer, police said.

News of the attack and Bickford’s arrest and alleged ties to radical Islamic ideology came as a shock to the Wells community, where Bickford competed in wrestling and football while attending Wells High School. He has no criminal record in Maine, according to the Maine State Bureau of Identification.

“Very polite, soft-spoken,” a 57-year-old Wells resident told the New York Daily News. “He carried himself well. He was respectful, polite. Not arrogant in any way. He said thank you. You’d never know. Just totally shocked … What was going on in his life? You’re trying to put your head around it.”

Across the country, incidents of unprovoked violence have become more frequent in recent years, often with connections to schools, workplaces or apparent involvement to extremist religious views tied to terrorism, said Noel March, director of the Maine Community Policing Institute at the University of Maine at Augusta.


“In Maine, we don’t expect to have any connections to this sort of incident, however, we must remember that even some of the 9/11 terrorists originated their deadly flight at Portland International Jetport,” said March, who is also a former United States Marshal for Maine. “Maine is not immune from having a nexus to domestic or international terrorism.”

CNN and ABC News said the NYE attack came after an “ISIS-aligned” video was posted on the internet calling for “lone offender attacks” throughout December.

The NYPD on Tuesday was still investigating the details of the bizarre and unprovoked attack.

“We’ve received some computers that we’re going through right now,” NYPD Chief of Intelligence and Counterterrorism Thomas Galati said in a Tuesday interview on NY1. Galati said he expects additional charges to be added to the current counts of attempted murder and attempted assault, the Daily News reported.

Officials now expect Bickford will be be arraigned Wednesday in his Bellevue Hospital bed, with a police source indicating the case will not fall under federal jurisdiction, the Daily News reported.

Galati said the NYPD was never notified about the defendant’s trip to New York, although he added the FBI had the suspect on their radar. Bickford was placed on an FBI watch list earlier in December.


“They did what was prudent in Maine,” he said. “They went out and interviewed the family, a couple of days later they interviewed him. … They opened up a full investigation on him, so they did everything they were supposed to do.”

Bickford landed on law enforcement radar after his mom reported her son’s radicalization to local police on Dec. 10.

“[She] contacted us and said ‘What should we do?’ ” Wells Police Capt. Gerald Congdon told the Daily News. “We notified the FBI. The FBI did their thing and that’s it.”

Law enforcement sources have provided details to the New York Times and The Associated Press that paint a clearer picture of Bickford’s actions in the days and weeks before he traveled by train to New York City.

Those sources, who were unnamed because of the ongoing investigation, say Bickford converted to Islam sometime in the past year and a half and had been drifting toward a radical Islamic ideology. He became angered by the persecution of Muslims overseas and decided to go abroad to fight, the Times reported.

Multiple media outlets cite anonymous law enforcement sources saying Bickford was placed on an FBI watchlist which prevented him from traveling internationally after his mother and aunt reported concerns about Bickford’s views to law enforcement.


Authorities are examining whether he made the trip specifically to attack police at the Times Square festivities, a law enforcement official familiar with the matter told the AP.

CNN reported that Bickford’s backpack contained a handwritten diary expressing his desire to join the Taliban in Afghanistan and die a martyr. Bickford also had written a farewell letter to his family.

In the letter, Bickford wrote to his mother, “I fear greatly that a piece of you believes so that you may be taken out of the hellfire,” the Times reported.

New York City police and federal officials are still trying to ascertain a motive, and investigators are reviewing Bickford’s online postings, which included some mentions of Islamic extremist views, an official told the AP. The official could not publicly discuss details about the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

March, from the community police institute, said that as domestic threats of violence grow, it is important to pay attention to behaviors, writings or statements that may indicate a person has become fixated or preoccupied with irrational thoughts or topics of violence. In those cases, he said, it’s important to “see something, say something.”

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is looking into the suspect, the agency said. The FBI searched Bickford’s childhood home in Wells over the weekend. A spokesperson for the FBI’s Boston office has repeatedly declined to comment, citing the need to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

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