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The Indiana University victim of an alleged anti-Asian attack is out of the hospital

An Indiana University student was less than a mile away from the Bloomington campus when she was attacked in broad daylight in what local officials called a "racially motivated attack."
Darron Cummings
An Indiana University student was less than a mile away from the Bloomington campus when she was attacked in broad daylight in what local officials called a "racially motivated attack."

An 18-year-old Indiana University student who was stabbed several times in the head in Bloomington, Ind., by an assailant who thought the victim was Chinese, is out of the hospital and recovering, as the suspect seeks an insanity defense.

After the attack, the student was rushed to an area hospital where she was treated for multiple stab wounds on her head. The student, who asked to remain anonymous out of safety concerns, has since returned home, says attorney Kathleen DeLaney, who is representing the student's family.

"The family has stated that the student is out of the hospital and recovering, and they have requested privacy to allow for further emotional and physical healing," DeLaney told NPR in a statement.

She added that the family expressed their solidarity with the Asian American community in Bloomington and across the country who have also faced "random, senseless and hate-based attacks."

The suspect is seeking an insanity defense

The attack took place on Jan. 11 near a bus stop less than a mile from Indiana University's Bloomington campus. The student was preparing to get off the public bus when another passenger struck her repeatedly in the head with a knife and then walked off.

The Bloomington Police Department said surveillance footage from the Bloomington Transit bus showed the suspect and the victim had no interactions prior to the assault.

The suspect, Billie R. Davis, 56, told police that she stabbed the student because the student was "Chinese," adding that it "would be one less person to blow up our country," according to an affidavit shared with NPR.

Davis has been arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon. According to court documents, Davis pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her attorney, Kyle Dugger, has also filed an insanity defense.

Dugger told NPR that people close to Davis describe "no racist attitude or history." He added that she has a long history of "severe mental illness" and was seeking help managing her condition on the day of the assault.

"I would caution the public not to jump to conclusions about a person's thoughts or beliefs based on police claims from a single interview, and advise even more caution when the interview was taken from a person in custody who may be experiencing psychosis," Dugger said in a statement.

A competency hearing has been requested, according to Dugger. If scheduled, the court will appoint two psychiatrists to examine Davis and determine if she is competent to stand trial and whether she was insane at the time of the offense.

Asian Americans call for change in Indiana

Asian Americans in Indiana have been grappling with fear, grief and anger in the days and weeks after the assault.

Melissa Borja, who leads Indiana's chapter of National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said discrimination and violence against Asian Americans have been an ongoing issue in the state.

In 2016, an 18-year-old student, Yue Zhang, was attackedwith a hatchet by a man who wanted to bring about "an ethnic cleansing" in Nashville, Ind. In 1999, graduate student Won Joon Yoon was shotto death outside a church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist.

Her group attempted to address those concerns with Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2021. In a petition, the group called for a statewide advisory committee that would focus on Asian American and Pacific Islander affairs and new procedures and programs to help community members targeted by anti-Asian racism.

Borja said her organization did not receive a direct response, adding that the governor's office has done little to address the concerns from the petition so far.

NPR has reached out to the governor's office and will update when we get a response.

Borja said her group plans to readdress these concerns to the governor and reopen the petition on Saturday at a rally held in Bloomington.

"One reason why we wanted to reopen the petition is that it shows the continuity of the problem and the fact that we have been calling attention to the problem of anti-Asian racism for a couple years already," Borja told NPR.

She added, "We see the solution to the problem is empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander Hoosiers to have a greater voice in decision making in Indiana."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.
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