On New Year’s Eve, an Islamist attacked New York Police Department (Rookie) officer identified as Paul Cozzolino with a machete at Times Square. As per reports, the police officer was on his first day on the job. The attacker slashed the police officer’s head with the machete prompting another officer identified as Michael Hanna to shoot him. Hanna was also a Rookie cop. The suspect was hit on the shoulder.
Another cop identified as Louis Iorio, who was an 8-year veteran, was also injured and suffered a laceration on the head. Hanna was also injured in the attack and rushed to Mt Siani West hospital.
The attacker has been identified as Trevor Bickford. The police arrested the suspect at the scene and taken to Bellevue hospital. 19-year-old Bickford seems to have been recently radicalised by Islamic extremists. According to the New York Post, law enforcement agencies are investigating the case and checking his internet history to understand the timeline of his radicalisation.
Paul and the other officer were immediately rushed to Bellevue hospital. Another cop was injured while removing the barricades to allow cop cars to reach the incident spot. However, while removing the barricades, one of the cop cars hit, and a barricade fell on the cop who was removing them. He was rushed to the nearest hospital and expected to recover.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement that the officer sustained a large laceration and fracture on the skull. As per reports, Paul graduated on December 30 and was assigned to a Staten Island precinct. However, for the New Year’s Eve detail, he was stationed at West 52nd Street and 8th Avenue, where the incident happened at around 9:30 PM. There were two other officers with him.
Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement that the attack was “unprovoked”. Both officers are expected to recover soon. Adams and Sewell said in their statements that no “active threats” were there to the community.
FBI joined the investigation
Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force has reportedly joined the investigation. In another report, it was mentioned that the attacker was on FBI’s “Guardian Watchlist”. He was allegedly planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight alongside the terrorists. The Post quoted an unnamed police source saying, “No backpacks or umbrellas in Times Square. They forgot to mention machetes.”
Manifesto found in the backpack of radicalised youth
A manifesto was recovered from his backpack, sources told The Post. It had a note for the family asking them to “accept Islam. It read, “To my family — specifically, mother — I’m sorry for not having been a good enough son. I fear greatly that you will not repent to Allah. And therefore, I hold hope in my heart that a piece of you believes so that you may be taken out to the hellfire. To [my brother] Travis. Of anyone I’ve known who I have felt is closest to faith — it’s you. Of anyone I’ve ever wanted to accept Islam with me — it’s you. Please repent to Allah and accept Islam. I fear for you. To Devon, there was a time when we were close, but that time has passed. You have joined the ranks of my enemy. And for that, I can give you no kind words – return to Allah.” Devon is reportedly a Marine officer.
Bickford hailed from Wells, Maine. He travelled to New York on an Amtrak train and reached the city on December 29. He was staying at the Bowery Mission. In his belongings, the police found camping gear, a diary, the last will and a testament.
As per The Post’s sources, he told the police that he planned a violent attack on the uniformed officer or someone armed as they were “enemy of the state”. It is believed that his online activity might have put him on the FBI’s watchlist.
In 2018, Bickford’s father died of an overdose. By that time, he was a regular boy. However, post his father’s death, Bickford apparently “found religion”. Around a month ago, he became radicalised. So far, the police have not found any criminal history linked to Bickford.
Multiple incidents reported on New Year’s Eve
The machete attack was not the only incident that happened on New Year’s Eve. Reports suggest that the crowd was trying to tear down the barricades, and the cops intervened to stop them. Later, at around 8:45 PM, a fight broke out between the two men on West 42nd Street and 6th Avenue. One of the men was stabbed in the neck with scissors. In another incident earlier the same day, another man was stabbed eight times on 7th Avenue and West 40th Street.