New York

Times Square Suspect Wanted to ‘Carry Out Jihad,’ Prosecutors Say

Trevor Bickford, who is accused of attacking three police officers with a knife on New Year’s Eve, told authorities he had come to New York “in order to kill people and carry out jihad,” prosecutors said Wednesday.

Mr. Bickford, 19, was charged by the Manhattan district attorney’s office with attempted murder in the first degree and attempted assault. The attack occurred shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday just north of Times Square.

Mr. Bickford, a Maine resident who converted to Islam within the past year and a half, said “Allahu akbar” before hitting one officer over the head with a long knife known as a kukri, according to court documents. He then charged another officer, dropping the knife in the process, and made an unsuccessful grab at the officer’s gun before he was apprehended.

One of the prosecutors, Lucy Nicholas, said that Mr. Bickford had at first wanted to travel internationally, but had changed his mind, and that he had come to New York to commit murder.

Mr. Bickford told authorities that all government officials constituted targets for him, as “they cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel.” He said that he considered all men of military age targets.

One of the officers, Paul Cozzolino, suffered a fractured skull, but has been released from the hospital, as have the other two who were attacked. One of those officers, Michael Hanna, shot Mr. Bickford, who attended his virtual court appearance from the hospital on Wednesday. The judge ordered him held without bail.

A spokesman for the Legal Aid Society, which is representing Mr. Bickford, said that the teenager had no criminal record and that he had been charged by prosecutors after “languishing in N.Y.P.D. custody for nearly four days despite a well-established court requirement that an arraignment take place within 24 hours of arrest.”

“We’ll have more to say about this case after a thorough review and investigation,” the statement said. “For now, we ask the public to refrain from drawing hasty conclusions and to respect the privacy of our client’s family.”

A senior law enforcement official said Monday that Mr. Bickford might face terrorism charges, but that was not among the crimes he was charged with on Wednesday. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to say whether Mr. Bickford would face federal terrorism charges. If convicted of the murder charge, he could face a mandatory life sentence.

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