Bus stabbing of Indiana University student stokes fear in the Asian community

Students walk to classes on the Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., in 2021. A student was stabbed on a bus near campus.
Students walk to classes on the Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., in 2021. A student was stabbed on a bus near campus.
Darron Cummings/AP

An 18-year-old Indiana University student was stabbed multiple times in the head while riding a local bus in Bloomington, Ind., this past week.

The suspect told police she stabbed the victim because the victim was Chinese, adding that it "would be one less person to blow up our country," according to an affidavit shared with NPR.

Indiana University in Bloomington confirmed that the victim was a student enrolled there and said it was an incident of "anti-Asian hate." Police did not provide details about the victim except that she was from Carmel, a city north of Indianapolis.

Bloomington is a college city southwest of Indianapolis. About 10% of the city's population identifies as Asian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Bloomington Police Department said the attack took place on Wednesday afternoon less than a mile from Indiana University's Bloomington campus.

The suspect, Billie R. Davis, 56, has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon, according to court documents.

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Local police said surveillance footage from the Bloomington Transit bus showed that the suspect and the victim had no interactions prior to the assault. The victim appeared to be getting off the bus when another passenger struck her repeatedly in the head with a knife, according to the affidavit. The attacker then left the bus and walked away.

When emergency responders arrived on scene, the victim was in immediate pain and bleeding, police said. She was quickly transported to an area hospital, where it was determined that the bleeding came from stab wounds on her head.

Police said they were able to identify and track down the suspect with the help of an unnamed witness who followed Davis out of the bus after the attack and alerted law enforcement of the suspect's location.

Although the investigation is ongoing, the unprovoked assault against a person of Asian descent follows increased reports of hate crimes against Asians beginning in 2020.

In a statement released on Saturday, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton described the attack as a "racially motivated incident," adding that his staff is working to support the victim and the local Asian community.

"I want to state categorically that here in the city of Bloomington we deplore any form of racism and discrimination, especially hate based violence," he said.

Indiana University's vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs, James Wimbush, said the attack "sadly reminded that anti-Asian hate is real and can have painful impacts on individuals and our community."

The university's Asian Culture Center also spoke out earlier.

"We should not be fearing for our lives on public transportation. Taking the bus should not feel dangerous," the group wrote in a statement.

The center said the attack sent "a familiar jolt" through Indiana's Asian community. In 2016, an 18-year-old student, Yue Zhang, was attacked with a hatchet by a man who wanted to bring about "an ethnic cleansing" in Nashville, Ind. In 1999, graduate student Won Joon Yoon was shot to death outside a church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist.

On Friday, the group also hosted a listening circle for students to come together in processing feelings of fear, sadness, anger and anxiety.

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