Muslim woman attacked in Bloomington says suspect could’ve killed her

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UPDATE: IU spokesperson Mark Land told FOX59 on Tuesday that Tricetin Bickford has been dismissed and he is no longer a student at the university as a result of the his arrest over the weekend.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Oct. 19, 2015)-- A Muslim woman in Bloomington said she’s still shaken after being attacked over the weekend. The FBI, meanwhile, said it’s investigating whether that woman’s civil rights may have been violated.

Monday afternoon, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office charged 19-year-old Triceten D. Bickford with intimidation, strangulation, battery, illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, and public intoxication as a result of the incident on Saturday night.

Mug shot: Triceten Bickford

Mug shot: Triceten Bickford

Bickford was also charged with battery on a police officer. Court documents show he bit an officer while he was being booked into the Monroe County Jail on Saturday night.

Online records list Bickford as a student at Indiana University.

Investigators said he began choking the woman, trying to remove the scarf over her head, all while yelling “white power” and other derogatory statements.

The victim sat down with FOX59 and shared details, requesting that her identity be hidden for her safety.

“If I didn’t grab his hands, he could’ve killed me,” the victim said.

She said the attack happened in the blink of an eye. She was sitting outside a restaurant on South Walnut Street in Bloomington with her 9-year-old daughter. She said Bickford appeared drunk when he came walking up.

“He yelled white power, white power,” she said, “What he’s saying, white power, is a very big discrimination against who I am, what I believe, and that’s never happened in my life.”

Within seconds, the woman said she felt him grab her neck then try to pull her scarf off her head.

“I found him at my neck, pushing me down, squeezing my neck, and putting my head to the table,” she said.

The victim said she screamed for her husband nearby, and he later came to her aid, along with another man. The two held Bickford until Bloomington Police arrived.

The mother of five and 18-year Bloomington resident said though not physically hurt, she is emotionally scarred. She also worries of the emotional trauma inflicted on her daughter, who watched the whole attack.

“Mommy, I couldn’t help you,” she said, “I could not forget that moment. I didn’t want my child to go through that trauma.”

The victim also shared a message for her attacker.

“I hope one day he will learn what he did was wrong and he can seek forgiveness,” she said.

Bloomington Police, too,  remain troubled by the alleged crimes.

“That’s one of the things that is most bothersome is that, we have a very open, accepting, understanding community. And, this is a situation that appears to come out of nowhere and is atypical for our community and something that is completely unacceptable,” said Captain Joe Qualters, with Bloomington Police.

Bickford posted bond and was released from jail on Sunday. The victim said she is considering a restraining order in this case.

Indiana does not have a hate crime statute, though the incident could be recorded as such by the FBI. On the state level, there are no additional penalties in Indiana for targeting someone based on their background. The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office said the nature of the crime could bring harsher penalties.

Wendy Osborne, spokesperson for the FBI in Indianapolis, tells FOX59 the agency is aware of the situation and is currently researching and gathering information. Osborne said the agency is checking to see whether federal law has been violated, and if so, they will open a civil rights case.

Late Monday afternoon, Indiana University posted a statement on its Facebook page regarding the attack.

Indiana University is aware of the horrifying incident involving one of our students and a member of the Bloomington Muslim community over the weekend.

This type of abhorrent behavior is not representative of our students, nor of the culture of inclusion and tolerance so many people at the university and in the Bloomington community have worked so hard to foster. The university is closely monitoring the Bloomington Police investigation into this matter, and IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel has instructed the Dean of Students office to conduct its own investigation into the incident.

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