Wells man faces attempted murder, assault charges in New Year's Eve machete attack on police

Jan. 2—A 19-year-old man from Wells faces assault and attempted murder charges after allegedly attacking three New York City police officers with a machete on New Year's Eve.

Trevor Bickford faces two counts of attempted murder and two counts of simple assault, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department.

Bickford may also face additional terrorism-related charges, a law enforcement official told the New York Times.

Multiple news outlets have reported that Bickford had been drifting toward a radical Islamic ideology in the weeks and months leading up to Saturday's attack. CNN and ABC News said the attack came after an "ISIS-aligned" video was posted on the internet calling for "lone offender attacks" throughout December.

CNN also reported that Bickford's backpack contained a handwritten diary expressing his desire to join the Taliban in Afghanistan and die a martyr. And the New York Times reported Bickford had also written a farewell letter to his family.

Police say Bickford attacked a group of NYPD officers with a machete at around 10 p.m. Saturday just outside the security perimeter for the New Year's celebration in Times Square. Two officers were struck in the head before Bickford was shot in the shoulder by a third officer, police said.

ABC News reported that Bickford boarded an Amtrak train on Thursday, Dec. 29, to travel from Maine to New York City.

Authorities are examining whether he made the trip specifically to attack police at the Times Square festivities, a law enforcement official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

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.

The attack took place at West 52nd St. and 8th Ave., about eight blocks from Times Square.

An NYPD spokesperson said the injured officers have been discharged from the hospital.

Bickford remained hospitalized Monday with a gunshot wound to the shoulder, AP reported. He was awaiting arraignment, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could speak to the allegations.

The attack is being investigated by the NYPD and the FBI. A spokesperson for the FBI office in Boston, which searched Bickford's childhood home on Alpine Drive in Wells on Sunday, declined to provide any additional details about the investigation Monday.

"This is a very active investigation and in order to protect its integrity we are going to decline further comment at this time," spokesperson Kristen Setera said.

Bickford has no criminal record in Maine, according to a background check through the Maine State Bureau of Identification.

Bickford's father, Tom, died unexpectedly at age 41 in 2018, according to his obituary. He had a "very active" role in the lives of their three sons, and "could often be found coaching them at football and wrestling," the obituary said.

Bickford competed in football and wrestling while in high school, according to team programs, and was a member of the 2020 Wells High School state championship wrestling team.

Bickford also won an honorable mention award for jewelry in the 2020 Maine Region Scholastic Art Awards, according to the Portsmouth Herald.

Bickford's mother, Audra D'Antilio Simpson, and aunt notified law enforcement recently that he had become attracted to violent Islamist ideologies, according to ABC News, citing unnamed police sources. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is looking into the suspect, the agency said.

Neighbors in Wells, who did not wish to be identified because they know the family, said the family was known in the neighborhood, and they were surprised to hear Bickford was connected to the attack in New York City. They said Bickford had recently worked at the Old Marsh Country Club, which is located in the same neighborhood less than a mile from the family's residence.