The suspect in an unprovoked attack allegedly said she was motivated by race when she repeatedly stabbed the victim – an Asian student at Indiana University – last week on a city bus, according to court documents and a student group.
In what appears to be the latest example of a swell in anti-Asian discrimination nationwide, Billie Davis, 56, who is White, has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery by means of a deadly weapon in the January 11 attack in Bloomington, court records obtained by CNN affiliate WTHR show. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney.
Davis and the victim had been riding separately on the bus, and when the victim tried to exit, Davis got up from her nearby seat and allegedly stabbed the victim in the head with a folding knife, leaving puncture wounds, a probable cause affidavit says.
Davis later allegedly told investigators she used a knife to stab the victim because she was Chinese, saying “it would be one less person to blow up our country,” the affidavit says.
After the stabbing, Davis got off the bus, walked away and discarded the knife before authorities got to her, it states. The victim was rushed to a hospital, according to the documents; her condition isn’t known.
Surveillance footage from the bus showed no confrontation between Davis and the victim before the attack, the document states.
City and university officials have condemned the attack, which comes amid a rising tide of reported harassment and attacks against Asian Americans in the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, reported hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the nation’s largest cities and counties rose 164% over the prior year, according to a study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
The most prominent example may be the fatal 2021 shooting of eight people, mostly Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas in which prosecutors are pursuing hate crimes charges based on the victims’ sex and race. Last week in New York City, a man pleaded guilty to manslaughter as a hate crime and agreed to serve 22 years in prison in the April 2021 assault of a Chinese-American man, while another man pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and got 20 years in prison for striking a Chinese woman in 2021 with a rock.
Following last week’s bus attack, Bloomington’s mayor denounced hate-based violence, acknowledging a “racially motivated incident like this … can leave us feeling less safe.”
“We stand with the Asian community and all who feel threatened by this event,” John Hamilton said Saturday in a statement.
The attack reminded the city “that anti-Asian hate is real and can have painful impacts on individuals and our community,” said Indiana University’s vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs, James Wimbush.
“No one should face harassment or violence due to their background, ethnicity or heritage,” Wimbush said in a statement, adding, “To our Asian and Asian American friends, colleagues, students, and neighbors, we stand firmly with you.”
The Indiana University Asian Culture Center is “outraged and heartbroken by this unprovoked act of violence,” according to a statement that identified the victim as an 18-year-old Asian student. “We should not be fearing for our lives on public transportation. Taking the bus should not feel dangerous.”
“The fact that the perpetrator announced that race was the motivation for her attack sends a jolt through our Asian community,” the center said. “But it is becoming a familiar jolt.”