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Times Square machete attack suspect charged with attempted murder, assault

Investigators trying to pinpoint motive in NYPD machete attack
Investigators trying to pinpoint motive in NYPD machete attack 01:55

NEW YORK -- The suspect in the New Year's Eve machete attack just outside the Times Square celebration was charged Monday with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault. 

Federal charges could be coming.

We're learning more about the suspect, 19-year-old Trevor Bickford, as federal investigators continue to look into whether the attack was terror-related.

Police sources say the bomb squad responded to a suspicious package Sunday in Forest Park, Queens that may have been tied to the case. It was discovered in a wooded area, along with a bag containing food and a sleeping bag. They believe it belonged to Bickford.

Sources also say the suspect told federal investigators he was targeting police. 

He was recently placed on an FBI terror watch list, according to a high-ranking police source. Still, police allege he was able to carry out what could be New York's latest terror attack. 

"It was nuts for about a good hour," Hell's Kitchen resident Stefan Shanni told CBS2. "I heard a lot of people screaming and yelling and I saw the sirens, and it was total chaos."

Officials allege the suspect attacked two officers with a machete, unprovoked, just outside the NYPD's high security zone for the New Year's Eve festivities in Times Square. He caused cuts and fractured one of their skulls and tried to injure a third officer. 

Video shows the chaotic moments after the man allegedly attacked. People can be seen sprinting by a crowd, and others standing outside a window then drop down.

A couple minutes later, you can see police clearing everyone out of the area, many quickly rushing by, others running.

Watch Alice Gainer's report

Suspect charged with attempted murder in New Year's Eve machete attack 01:36

The suspect was then shot in the shoulder and wounded by police. He remains hospitalized.

Another video obtained by CBS2 shows more than 20 police officer running on 52nd Street toward the crime scene. Just around the corner, video from a nearby restaurant shows chaos unfolding after the attack. Crowds of people gathered on Eighth Avenue for New Year's festivities start to panic.

"People trying to get into the store, people rushing out," said Fiorentina Pizzeria owner Mike Sicilliano. "And then you hear a gunshot, and it just went crazy. People lying on the floor to avoid the gunshots."

Officials believed the suspect acted alone, and the FBI says there is no ongoing threat. 

"We believe this was a sole individual. At this time, there's nothing to indicate otherwise," an FBI official said.

"I cannot even describe how bad it was. It was very, very terrifying to the public and people that work here," Sicilliano said.

Investigators spent much of the weekend searching the suspect's family home in Wells, Maine. Reports say he took an Amtrak from Maine to New York on Thursday, but sources tell CBS2 the NYPD was not aware and did not know he was on an FBI watch list. 

"I want to be clear that the FBI through the Joint Terrorism Taskforce is working very closely with them to determine the nature of this attack, and we will run every lead to ground," said the FBI official.

"It's just kind of hard to believe. I was just shocked, you know?" neighbor Steve Isles said.

Sources say he was put on the list because his aunt reported he had been radicalized online and expressed a desire to travel overseas and fight with Islamic extremists.

"There are message boards for this kind of material that just circulate," said David Viola, a professor with John Jay College of Criminal Justice's Center on Terrorism. "The reality is that this threat of online radicalization from organizations like ISIS and al-Qaida really never went away."

Mayor Eric Adams said one of the injured officers just graduated from the police academy Friday. 

"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.

CBS2's Tim McNicholas spoke to that officer briefly Monday. He seemed to be in good spirits and said he is feeling OK, resting up at home with his family.

Police officials say they are reviewing the body-worn camera footage the officers were wearing at the time of the attack. 

The suspect remains in police custody in the hospital.

All officers were treated and released.

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