According to a statement sent to TPM by the Bloomington police department, the woman, who was not named in initial reports, was sitting with her 9-year-old daughter at an outside table at the Sofra Café when Bickford emerged from an alley. Witnesses told the police that Bickford was yelling ethnic slurs, and screaming "white power" and "kill them all."
The heavily intoxicated Bickford grabbed the woman from the back of the neck and forced her head towards the table. She was wearing a headscarf, which he attempted to pull off, causing her breathing to be constricted.
The woman's husband, who was inside the café, rushed outside upon hearing his wife's screams and managed to pin Bickford to the ground with the help of another man as they waited for police to arrive on the scene. Bickford allegedly spat in the men’s faces and threatened to kill them during the wait, according to the police statement.
His tirade didn’t stop with the 7:35 PM arrival of the Bloomington police. Officers reported that Bickford attempted to kick out the windows of the squad car from the inside, and bit an officer on the calf once he arrived at the Monroe County Jail.
A blood alcohol test determined that Bickford had a BAC of 0.195, and he was hit with a slew of preliminary charges. They included one count of strangulation, one of intimidation, two of misdemeanor battery, one of felony-level battery, one of minor consumption of alcohol, and one of public intoxication.
Bickford’s bail has been set at $2,000.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued a statement calling for the incident to be treated as a "bias crime." In the emailed statement, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said, "We are concerned that the low bail in this case is an indication that it is not being taken as seriously as it should given the allegations of violence and the alleged bias motive."
Though Bickford’s social media profiles have been taken down, a cached version of a Twitter page that appears to belong to Bickford indicated that he is an avid supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Bickford’s bio identified him as a psychology student and “Bernie2016” supporter. He frequently retweeted posts from the Democratic senator, many of which seem to contradict the ethnically-motivated nature of his assault at Sofra Café.
On Sept. 25, he retweeted a post asking if the Republican field could run campaigns “without attacking African Americans, Latinos, Muslims or other people.”