The New York Police Department (NYPD) is investigating whether an alleged New Year’s Eve assault on police officers with a machete near Times Square was motivated by Islamic extremism.
According to WFAA, law enforcement officials identified Trevor Bickford, 19, to the Associated Press as the suspect in the attack.
Bickford is alleged to have traveled from Maine to New York City, investigators said. They are trying to determine whether he specifically traveled there to attack police officers.
The NYPD tweeted a photo of the machete used in the attack.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams addressed the attack early Sunday, stating that one of the injured officers had just graduated from the police academy.
“Which just goes to show you, if it’s not your first day, it could be your last day. The actions that police officers must take every day are life-threatening situations,” Adams said.
The attack on the officers happened around 8 p.m. outside the security area where people celebrating the ball drop are checked for weapons.
Three officers were attacked. The three officers were struck in the head, with one suffering a skull fracture and all of them suffering lacerations. The three injured officers were taken to Bellevue Hospital and released on Sunday.
Adams said he visited one of the officers as he was being treated.
“He was in good spirits. He understood how his role saved lives of New Yorkers today,” Adams said.
The suspect was shot in the shoulder. He is expected to recover.
According to ABC News, Bickford was charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted assault.
Police reportedly found a backpack containing a diary left behind by Bickford, which law enforcement officials told ABC News contained further evidence that he was motivated by Islamic extremism.
The diary reportedly indicated that Bickford did not expect to survive the alleged attack and asked to be buried according to Islamic tradition.
Meanwhile, CBS reported that Bickford was placed on an FBI watch list because of reports from his aunt saying he aspired to travel internationally and fight alongside Islamic extremists.
Stefan Shanni, who lives in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, heard the commotion and thought the celebration had started early.
“I heard a lot of people screaming and yelling and I saw the sirens and it was total chaos,” Shanni told CBS.
Bickford is thought to have slept in Forest Park, Queens, prior to the attack after making a donation to the charity group Bowery Mission. Investigators said the donation was likely intended to satisfy a Muslim tenet of charity.
Bickford remains hospitalized in custody at Bellevue Hospital.
If the attack was motivated by Islamist ideology, it would be the first terror incident associated with New Year’s Eve in Times Square, authorities said.
The new year has already been marked by tragedy in Dallas as well — an inauspicious sign for rising citywide crime rates in 2023. An 18-year-old is currently sought by police for allegedly shooting and killing a person in West Oak Cliff, which is located in Dallas City Councilmember Casey Thomas II’s District 3.