INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana University has expelled a 19-year-old sophomore accused of attacking Muslim woman over the weekend, trying to remove her headscarf and shouting racial slurs, a school official said Tuesday.
School spokesman Mark Land said IU’s dean of students “dismissed” Triceten D. Bickford on Monday night as a “direct result of what happened over the weekend” when the woman was attacked Saturday evening outside of a Bloomington cafe.
“He didn’t withdraw, let’s put it that way,” Land said, adding that he couldn’t go into further detail due to privacy concerns.
He said the university, which had already called the attack a “horrifying incident,” won’t have anything more to say about Bickford and will “let the legal process run its course.”
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Bickford, who is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been charged with multiple felony charges, including intimidation, strangulation and battery, in the attack at a Turkish cafe in Bloomington, about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the Muslim woman was sitting at a table with her 9-year-old daughter when a man later identified as Bickford emerged from a nearby alley shouting “white power,” anti-black racial slurs and “kill the police.” Bickford grabbed the woman by the neck and forced her head forward, restricting her breathing as he tried to remove her headscarf, police allege.
The woman’s husband and a passer-by dragged Bickford off and restrained him until police arrived. Bickford spit in the men’s faces, threatened to kill them and arriving officers, tried to kick out the windows of a patrol car and bit an officer on the calf at the Monroe County Jail, the affidavit states.
Bickford was released Sunday from Monroe County’s jail on $705 bond and other fees. He returned to class Monday but was expelled later that day.
The Associated Press sent emails to Bickford and left cell phones messages for him seeking comment Tuesday. Both the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and Land said it’s unclear if Bickford has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Bickford told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis that he has no memory of the incident and that a combination of drinking alcohol and not taking his anti-anxiety medication caused him to snap. He said he is not a hateful person.
“I’m so sorry to that woman. I have no idea who she is … I’ve never hurt someone like that before,” Bickford told the TV station.
The woman’s 48-year-old husband, who asked that their names not be used, said Tuesday that the family had moved from Turkey to Bloomington nearly two decades ago but had never experienced anything like the attack.
He said his 47-year-old wife was sitting outside the restaurant when she noticed a drunk man approaching “mumbling some drunk stuff” and then heard him repeating “white power” shortly before he attacked her.
He said Bickford’s bond was set “too low” and that he and his wife would have preferred for Bickford to remain in jail until his initial hearing on the charges, which is scheduled for Friday. He expects prosecutors to request a restraining order at that hearing to keep Bickford away from the family.
“But right now we have no restraining order against him, and that makes us kind of feel uncomfortable,” he said. “It affected all of us, but especially our 9-year-old daughter,” whom he said was so upset she stayed home from school Monday.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the attack fits a nationwide pattern.
“We’ve seen a tremendous spike in the level of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society and increasingly violent hate rhetoric,” in recent years, he said Tuesday.
Wendy Osborne, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Indianapolis, said the agency is reviewing Saturday’s incident and could open up a hate crimes investigation if it “determines that a federal law has been violated.”