NEW YORK – A man accused of attacking police with a machete near New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve was arrested on charges of attempting to murder police officers, authorities said Monday as they continued to investigate whether he was motivated by Islamic extremism.
Trevor Bickford, 19, also faces attempted assault charges from the attack that injured two officers at the edge of the high-security zone where throngs of new year's revelers were gathered, the New York Police Department said in a news release.
Bickford, who lives in Wells, Maine, remained hospitalized Monday with a gunshot wound to the shoulder from police fire during the confrontation. He was awaiting arraignment, and it wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could speak to the allegations. The Associated Press left messages for his relatives.
A law enforcement official familiar with the matter told the AP on Sunday that investigators believe Bickford traveled to New York City earlier in the week. They are examining whether he made the trip specifically to attack police at the Times Square festivities, the official said.
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, the official said. The official could not publicly discuss details about the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Michael Driscoll, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said Sunday that investigators believe the attacker acted alone.
FBI spokespeople in New York and Boston declined to discuss the ongoing inquiry Monday. Boston field office spokesperson Kristen Setera called it a “very active investigation.”
FBI agents were seen Sunday night entering Bickford’s family home in Wells, a popular beach destination close to the New Hampshire border. Bickford competed in sports in high school, was part of Maine's state champion wrestling team in 2020 and made the honor roll for his studies at least one year.
The principal at Wells High School declined to comment on Monday. Messages seeking comment were sent to the wrestling coach.
Bickford’s father died unexpectedly in 2018, according to an online obituary.
The machete attack happened about two hours before midnight on Saturday, just outside the area where people are screened for weapons before gaining entry to one of the world’s biggest and most famous New Year’s celebrations.
Two of the officers were struck with the machete before an officer shot the suspect, authorities said. One officer suffered a fractured skull and the other has a bad cut. Both were expected to recover, as was the suspect.
The attack briefly sent some people running, but the festivities in Times Square continued.
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington; Michael Balsamo in Kansas City, Missouri; Michael R. Sisak in New York; David Sharp in Portland, Maine, and Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.