Man sentenced to 27 years for stabbing 3 officers in Times Square on New Year's Eve

Trevor Bickford faced up to 120 years in prison.

May 9, 2024, 5:02 PM

Trevor Bickford was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison Thursday for a "brazen" 2022 New Year's Eve knife attack in Times Square that seriously injured three New York City Police Department officers, the Department of Justice said.

Bickford, who was 19 at the time of the attack, came from Maine in December 2022 intending to carry out a jihadist attack on officers in uniform with a "machete-style knife," prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty in January to six federal charges stemming from the attack -- three counts of attempted murder of government officials and three counts of assault on government officials.

In addition to the prison term, Bickford, now 20, was sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release.

"Today's sentence holds Trevor Bickford accountable for his premeditated 2022 terrorist attack in Times Square during which he attempted to kill three NYPD officers in a violent rampage," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "The Justice Department is deeply grateful to the NYPD for its quick actions and bravery in disrupting this New Year's Eve attack, and for the work it does every day to keep New Yorkers safe. The Justice Department will always stand by its state and local law enforcement partners as we work together to counter the threat of terrorism, and that includes being relentless in prosecuting those who seek to harm officers."

Bickford faced up to 120 years in prison -- 20 years for each charge.

The government asked for a sentence of at least 50 years in prison, arguing in a court filing ahead of Thursday's sentencing that it "is necessary and appropriate to reflect the extraordinarily serious nature of the defendant's terrorism offense, to provide just punishment for the defendant's conduct, to deter and prevent the defendant from resuming activities in support of radical terrorist ideology, and to deter others who, like the defendant, would seek to carry out brutal terrorist attacks on U.S. soil."

Prosecutors said Bickford's "brutal actions" had long-lasting impacts on the three officers, who they said believe a sentence of life in prison is appropriate.

The defense meanwhile sought a 10-year prison sentence followed by 15 years of supervised release. In a court filing ahead of sentencing, they cited his youth at the time of the attack as a key mitigating factor and argued his crimes were "informed by an unhealthy obsession with Islam" that stemmed from an untreated mental illness.

"Mr. Bickford is deeply apologetic to the officers, their families, and the witnesses that night," his attorneys wrote. "He recognizes the pain and suffering he has caused and would do anything to take back what he has done. Although Mr. Bickford knows he cannot change what happened in the past, he knows he can change his future for the better and he has worked hard to do so under challenging circumstances at the [Metropolitan Detention Center]."

PHOTO: In this undated photo, Trevor Bickford, who has been charged with attempted murder for attacking New York City police officers on New Year's Eve near Times Square, is shown.
In this undated photo, Trevor Bickford, who has been charged with attempted murder for attacking New York City police officers on New Year's Eve near Times Square, is shown.

The three NYPD officers were manning a checkpoint on the Times Square periphery on Dec. 31, 2022, when they were stabbed with an 18-inch kukri knife. The attack occurred near West 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue, outside the secure area that had been set up for New Year's Eve celebrations.

Bickford was shot by one of the injured officers and arrested following the attack. Law enforcement found Bickford's backpack near the scene of the attack, prosecutors said. A book inside the backpack had a passage highlighted that said, "Fight in the Name of Allah and in the Cause of Allah. Fight against those who do not believe in Allah. Wage a holy war," according to prosecutors.

Bickford reportedly told investigators the attack was unsuccessful because none of the officers died and because he did not achieve martyrdom, according to the complaint from the Southern District of New York.

Prosecutors said Bickford planned the attack in Times Square after "months of radicalization" and had initially intended to travel overseas to support the Taliban before focusing on an attack in the U.S.

Bickford also faces more than a dozen state charges in connection with the New Year's Eve attack, including three counts of attempted murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 22 in the state case.

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