An Indiana University student was stabbed in the head while riding a bus in Bloomington, Ind., on Wednesday in an unprovoked attack that officials described as a “racially motivated incident.”
The student, an 18-year-old woman who was not publicly identified, was waiting for the Bloomington Transit bus’s doors to open at 4:45 p.m. when she was stabbed in the head several times, the Bloomington Police Department said in a statement on Thursday.
After the attack, another bus passenger followed the suspect on foot and helped officers detain the person, Billie R. Davis, 56, of Bloomington, the police said.
Ms. Davis was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon, according to court documents. Video footage from inside the bus revealed that Ms. Davis and the victim had not interacted before the attack, the police said.
The student was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not available on Sunday. The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana signed in 2019 a hate crime law that imposes longer sentences for crimes motivated by bias, including because of race. It was unclear whether it could be used in the case against Ms. Davis.
The Bloomington Police Department and lawyers for Ms. Davis did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
Mayor John Hamilton of Bloomington said in a statement that the stabbing was a “brutal attack.”
“This behavior is not acceptable and will be dealt with accordingly,” Mr. Hamilton said. “We know when a racially motivated incident like this resonates throughout the community, it can leave us feeling less safe. We stand with the Asian community and all who feel threatened by this event.”
James C. Wimbush, a vice president of diversity, equity and multicultural affairs at Indiana University, said in a statement on Friday that the attack was a reminder “that anti-Asian hate is real and can have painful impacts on individuals and our community.”
“No one should face harassment or violence due to their background, ethnicity or heritage,” Mr. Wimbush said. “To our Asian and Asian American friends, colleagues, students, and neighbors, we stand firmly with you.”
The attack in Bloomington comes amid a rise in hate crimes targeting Asians. The increase in attacks prompted federal lawmakers last year to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which gave government and law enforcement officials more tools and resources to work to stop, monitor and react to such crimes.
The Indiana University Asian Culture Center, a resource organization on campus, said in a statement on Friday that it was “outraged and heartbroken by this unprovoked act of violence.”
“We also worry for the well-being of our community,” the center said. “We should not be fearing our lives on public transportation. Taking the bus should not feel dangerous.”
The stabbing on Wednesday, the center said, sent “a jolt through our Asian community.”
“But it is becoming a familiar jolt,” the center said, citing two other attacks on Asians in the Bloomington area.
In 2016, Yue Zhang of Nashville, Indiana, was attacked by a white man with a hatchet, who said he did so because he “hated these people,” the center said. In 1999, Won-Joon Yoon was fatally shot by a white man, who was an “avowed white supremacist,” outside of a church, according to the center.