Student accused of racially motivated attack on Muslim woman

This undated photo provided by the Bloomington Police Department shows 19-year-old Triceten D. Bickford, an Indiana University student who faces multiple felony charges including intimidation, strangulation and battery in the Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, attack on a Muslim woman in a cafe in Bloomington, Ind. (Bloomington Police Department via AP)

BLOOMINGTON, IN (AP) — A 19-year-old Indiana University student accused of trying to remove a Muslim woman’s headscarf in a racially motivated attack says he had been drinking alcohol and hadn’t taken his anti-anxiety medication prior to the incident.

Court records show Triceten D. Bickford faces multiple felony charges including intimidation, strangulation and battery in the Saturday evening attack in a cafe in Bloomington, Indiana. He was released on $500 bond and returned to class Monday.

A city police report says officers responded to reports of an assault at a cafe around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The report says a 47-year-old woman was sitting at a table with her 9-year-old daughter when a man shouted epithets and racially charged threats at the woman, including “white power” and “kill them all.”

According to the report, the man then grabbed the woman by the neck and forced her head toward the table, restricting her breathing while trying to take off her headscarf. The report says her husband and passers-by were able to pull the man off and restrained him on the sidewalk until police arrived.

The man spit in the faces of the husband and passers-by, threatened to kill them and arriving officers, tried to kick out the windows of a patrol car and bit an officer on the calf after arriving at the Monroe County Jail, according to the report.

Federal authorities could also bring hate crime charges against Bickford. Wendy Osborne, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Indianapolis, told TV station WXIN that the agency is considering whether to open a civil rights case.

Bickford told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis he has no memory of the incident and that a combination of drinking alcohol and not taking anti-anxiety medication caused him to snap. He said he is not a hateful person.

“I am so sorry to that woman,” Bickford told the TV station. “I have no idea who she is, but words can’t explain how much that … I’ve never hurt someone like that before.”

The Associated Press sent an email to Bickford seeking comment early Tuesday. Court records don’t list an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

The woman complained of pain, but she declined medical treatment, the (Bloomington) Herald-Times reported.

An initial court hearing is set for Friday

The university in Bloomington, about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis, issued a statement Monday saying it was aware of the “horrifying incident involving one of our students” and that the dean of students would investigate.

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