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Indiana University student targeted in bus stabbing for being Asian, police say

Billie Davis, 56, said she attacked the 18-year-old because she is Chinese, adding "it would be one less person to blow up our country," according to court documents.

An 18-year-old Indiana University student was targeted and stabbed on a bus in Bloomington for being Asian, according to police.

The 18-year-old from Carmel, Indiana told investigators that while waiting for the doors of a Bloomington transit bus to open, another passenger began to strike her repeatedly in the head, police said in a statement.

Billie Davis, 56, told the Bloomington Police Department that she used a folding knife to stab the 18-year-old in the head and targeted her for “being Chinese,” adding “it would be one less person to blow up our country,” according to court documents.

Police said that based on video, Davis and the victim had no interaction before the attack. The footage shows Davis unfolding the knife and stabbing the student "approximately seven times" before she left the bus, court documents say.

The student had multiple stab wounds to her head, was bleeding and was transported to a hospital, police said.

Davis has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery by means of a deadly weapon, according to online court documents.

Indiana University in Bloomington on Aug. 30, 2020.
Indiana University in Bloomington on Aug. 30, 2020.Jeremy Hogan / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images file

It wasn’t clear if the defendant had a lawyer who could speak on her behalf. The public defender’s office for Monroe County, Indiana didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

"This week, Bloomington was sadly reminded that anti-Asian hate is real and can have painful impacts on individuals and our community," said James Wimbush, Indiana University vice president of diversity, equity and multicultural affairs. "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 university is providing counseling support to members of the community who need it.

The university's Asian Culture Center called the attack "a horrific and targeted anti-Asian hate crime."

"Our thoughts go out to the victim of this horrendous act, to her family, and to everyone in the community who is affected by this racial violence," it said in a statement Friday. "We are outraged and heartbroken by this unprovoked act of violence, but we also worry for the well-being of our community."

The university’s Asian Culture Center hosted an event Friday for students and members of the community to “process feelings of fear, sadness, anger, and anxiety,” according to the center’s Facebook.

Police responded to a question about whether the attack is being investigated as a hate crime by pointing to the state’s relevant statute, which doesn’t provide for specific hate crime charges.

"Unfortunately, Indiana does not have any hate crimes laws," Monroe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Kehr told NBC News. "That is, we have no law that increases the level of the charge or the maximum penalty for a crime that is motivated by hate. It is a statutory aggravating circumstance that can be argued to the judge at sentencing to increase the sentence beyond the midpoint, but that’s it."

Indiana's hate crime law, enacted in 2019, allows judges to consider harsher sentences where “bias” factors, including “color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion,” motivated the crime, according to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Because the legislature intentionally deleted gender identity and sex as possible motivating factors, the Anti-Defamation League said Indiana will remain on its list of states without a hate crime law.