Dana Ericson said he is a white supremacist and targeted the Chinese student because of her race. Photo: Brown County Sheriff’s Office
A US man accused of slashing a Chinese foreign exchange student with a hatchet in Indiana said the attack was an act of "ethnic cleansing".
Dana Ericson, 59, attacked an 18-year-old student Zhang Yue with the hatchet, significantly cutting her back. Ericson was arrested on charges including attempted murder, aggravated battery causing serious permanent disfigurement and battery by means of a deadly weapon.
Ericson pleaded not guilty in court on Monday in Brown County, Nashville, FOX 59 reported.
According to the local ABC affiliate, Ericson admitted to police that he is a white supremacist and that he targeted Zhang because of her race.
“Is it a crime to strike evil?” he allegedly told police, adding that his was an act of “ethnic cleansing” because he “hates these people.”
Ericson’s bond was set at $500,000 and he has been ordered not to contact Zhang or her host family. Public records show that Ericson has previously been arrested on charges of battery, intimidation, stalking and others, WBIW reported, but many were dismissed after he agreed to mental health treatment.
The local community is shaken by the incident in their town of less than 1,000 people. Witnesses speaking to Fox 59 recalled seeing Zhang hunched over and crying out in pain. People gathered Saturday said Ericson's alleged actions do not represent them, according to local media WTHR.
"We're upset about the attack that occurred here in Brown County," said Norbert Garvey, a Brown County resident. "We're a very peaceful place to live and we're proud of that heritage, and we just want you to know that there's no malice toward anyone in this county. Toward anyone from abroad or from another place. Everyone is equal and welcome here."
The Brown County Prosecutor's office issued a statement wishing Zhang a speedy recovery. They also said Ericson could not be charged with a hate crime because Indiana is one of a handful of states that do not recognize the term "hate crime" for criminal purposes.
State lawmakers are considering a bill this session that would change that. This latest push for a hate crime bill came after a Bloomington man attacked a Muslim woman outside a cafe in October.