Watch CBS News

Criminal complaint: NYPD machete attack suspect wanted to kill an officer in uniform

Prosecutors: NYPD machete attack suspect planned to carry out jihad
Prosecutors: NYPD machete attack suspect planned to carry out jihad 02:25

NEW YORK -- There is new information in the New Year's Eve machete attack on three NYPD officers.

Prosecutors say he came to New York City to kill and carry out jihad. A 19-year-old from Maine facing charges was arraigned Wednesday from his bed at a local hospital. 

His lawyers argue he should be released because he has no prior criminal record. Authorities maintain they believe he acted alone.

According to the criminal complaint, Trevor Bickford told police that he wanted to kill an officer in uniform.

"I saw the officer and waited until he was alone. I said 'Allahu Akbar.' I walked up and hit him over the head with a kukri. I charged another officer, but dropped the knife and I tried to get the police officer's gun, but couldn't," Bickford said.

He appeared virtually from his bed at Bellevue Hospital, where he's being treated after police shot him in the shoulder.

Bickford was charged with attempted murder, assault, and attempted assault for the attack Saturday just after 10 p.m. at 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue, outside a Times Square New Year's Eve checkpoint.

Three officers suffered head injuries.

Bickford was placed on a no-fly terror watchlist earlier in December after a concerned family member contacted authorities saying he had been radicalized online and wanted to travel to Afghanistan.

Police say the Maine resident came to New York City by way of Boston by train last Thursday.

Prosecutors say that he stated all government officials were a target because they "cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel."

Neighbors in Maine said they can't believe any of it.

"All the boys were real active in school. They all were very athletic, football ... wrestlers," Steve Isles said.

Police confirm Bickford's father died of an opioid drug overdose and that his mother began a relationship with a new man they believe Bickford was unhappy with.

When asked if an event like that could trigger someone to seek out these online sites and become self-radicalized, intelligence expert Brian Boyd said, "Yeah, I think so, but you could also argue the opposite. A lot of people have had terrible, horrendous childhoods and they don't become radicalized. The radicalization has a lot to do with the makeup of the individual."

Boyd is a counter terrorism specialist and previously served as the chief of intelligence for two federal agencies.

"Many criminals are lone wolves and they don't belong to a movement and they will seek out some way to identify with a movement," Boyd said.

READ MORENYPD machete attack suspect expected to face federal charges, sources say

The Legal Aid Society representing Bickford says people should "refrain from drawing hasty conclusions." It told the court he is a teenager with no prior record who was working at a golf course last year.

The Legal Aid Society argued for his release.

"Mr. Bickford was arraigned from Bellevue Hospital after languishing in NYPD custody for nearly four days, despite a well-established court requirement that an arraignment take place within 24 hours of arrest," it said.

Bickford remains in custody. No plea was entered. His next court date is Friday. If convicted, he faces life behind bars.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.