The 19-year-old Maine teenager who allegedly carried out a grisly machete attack on three police officers near Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations had recently been added to the FBI terror watch list after espousing radical Islamic ideology, according to multiple reports.
Trevor Bickford of Wells faces two counts of attempted murder and attempted assault for the attack, which police are investigating as an act of terrorism.
Bickford traveled from Wells, a coastal hamlet about 30 minutes south of Portland, by train to New York in the days prior to the attack, multiple outlets have reported.
The attack occurred just after 10 p.m. near a security checkpoint outside of Times Square. ABC News reports Bickford allegedly drew the machete, which he obtained in Maine, and shouted “Allahu Akbar” before attacking two officers with the blade. He was then shot by a third officer and taken into custody. The two officers hit were treated at local hospitals for injuries and released.
Bickford remains hospitalized but is in stable condition, police said.
Here’s what has been reported so far on Bickford.
He was already on an FBI watch list.
Bickford’s family contacted police in Wells on Dec. 10 with concerns Bickford wanted to go to Afghanistan to join the Taliban, CNN reported. FBI agents in Maine interviewed Bickford shortly thereafter and placed the teen on a terror watch list.
While being added to the list may have stopped Bickford from traveling overseas, he was never arrested as his statements at the time did not constitute a federal crime, according to CNN.
Bickford, who is white, had converted to Islam but was not formally connected to any known terrorist organization.
“It’s being investigated as a terror attack, 100 percent,” one high-ranking NYPD official told the Daily News. “He radicalized about a month ago. He’s not affiliated with any group. It’s more like a lone-wolf situation.”
Bickford’s social media posts also included threats to harm public officials, according to the Associated Press.
His reported actions suggest the attack was premeditated.
Before traveling to New York, Bickford withdrew thousands of dollars in cash and purchased the machete-style knife used in the attack, ABC News reported.
Those actions suggest the attack was premeditated, sources told ABC.
Bickford boarded an Amtrak train on Dec. 29 and originally planned to travel to Miami, according to CNN. However, he got off the train in New York and spent two nights at the Grand Hotel in Manhattan. He checked out the hotel with his belongings on the day of the attack.
Among Bickford’s possessions, which were recovered in a backpack found in the street, was a diary, CNN reported. “This will likely be my last entry,” an entry allegedly written by Bickford on the day of the attack begins. The diary goes on to detail Bickford’s desire to join the Taliban and criticized members of his family for not sharing his beliefs.
“You have joined the ranks of my enemy,” Bickford wrote of his brother, who had enlisted in the military, according to CNN. For his mother, Bickford wrote he hoped “a piece of you believes [in Allah] so that you may be taken out of the hellfire.”
In a now-removed post on social media in July, the Associated Press reported that Bickford’s mother wished her son a happy 19th birthday.
“So proud and lucky to be able to call you my son. (You’re) an old soul and you amaze me every day with all that you enjoy to explore and do,” Bickford’s mother wrote. “I am so beyond proud of the man you are becoming.”
Bickford’s father died unexpectedly in 2018, according to an obituary. He was 41 years old.
Bickford’s family is yet to comment publicly on the attack.
He was a high school athlete and artist.
In 2020, The Bangor Daily News reported Bickford participated in a wrestling competition, winning in his weight category and contributing to the school’s fourth-consecutive Class B state championship at the time.
Bickford also played football and lacrosse, according to a high school sports profile.
The Portsmouth Herald reported Bickford was one of a dozen students recognized in regional scholastic arts awards, where he received an honorable mention in the jewelry category.