A 56-year-old white woman was arrested after she allegedly confessed to repeatedly stabbing an Asian Indiana University student in the head in a what police said appeared to be an unprovoked, racially-motivated attack that unfolded in front of passengers on a public bus in Bloomington, Indiana.
The suspect, Billie R. Davis, 56, of Bloomington, was taken into custody after a passenger who witnessed the assault followed her on foot when she fled the Bloomington Transit bus and reported her location to police, authorities said.
Davis, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Indianapolis ABC affiliate WRTV, allegedly confessed to stabbing the 18-year-old victim with a folding knife, purportedly telling detectives because it would mean “one less person to blow up our country."
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton condemned the attack, saying in a statement, "We stand with the Asian community and all who feel threatened by this event."
"Following the brutal attack of a member of our community, I want to state categorically that here in the city of Bloomington we deplore any form of racism and discrimination, especially hate based violence. This behavior is not acceptable and will be dealt with accordingly," Hamilton said. "Bloomington is a relatively safe place, but we are not immune to issues with which our entire nation is dealing. This senseless incident is a reminder that we should all look out for each other, be aware of our surroundings and seek to combat racism and prejudice in all its forms wherever and whenever we encounter it."
The attack unfolded aboard the bus around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Bloomington Police Department said in a statement.
The victim, whose name was not released, told investigators she was attacked without warning when she stood up to exit the bus on Fourth Street in downtown Bloomington, several blocks from the Indiana University campus.
"She said that as she was standing and waiting for the bus doors to open, another passenger on the bus began to strike her repeatedly in the head, which resulted in immediate pain," police said in a statement.
Police officers called to the scene found the victim bleeding from her head and immediately called an ambulance, which took the victim to an area hospital for treatment.
"Once the victim’s wounds had been cleaned at the hospital, it was determined that the victim had multiple stab wounds to her head," according to the police statement.
The knife attack was captured on the bus' onboard surveillance camera, police said.
"The footage showed that the suspect and victim had no interactions prior to the suspect stabbing the victim multiple times in the head as the victim waited for the bus doors to open," the police statement said.
Davis was initially booked at the Monroe County Jail and on a felony battery charge. The charge was later amended to attempted murder after Davis allegedly confessed to investigators, police said.
“This week, Bloomington was sadly reminded that anti-Asian hate is real and can have painful impacts on individuals and our community," James Wimbush, vice president of diversity, equity and multicultural affairs at Indiana University, said in a statement. "No one should face harassment or violence due to their background, ethnicity or heritage. Instead, the Bloomington and IU communities are stronger because of the vast diversity of identities and perspectives that make up our campus and community culture."
The Indiana University Asian Culture Center also released a statement, urging students to speak up "and share your feelings of fear and rage."
"We are outraged and heartbroken by this unprovoked act of violence, but we also worry for the well-being of our community," the culture center said in its statement. "We should not be fearing for our lives on public transportation. Taking the bus should not feel dangerous."
Anti-Asian hate crimes have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic in 2020, according to a report from the group Stop AAPI Hate. The report showed that 11,467 hate incidents targeting Asians and Pacific Islanders were reported to the organization between March 2020 when the pandemic began and March 2022.