An Indiana man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he attacked a Chinese foreign exchange student with a hatchet, saying that he “hates these people” and was carrying out “ethnic cleansing,” the Washington Post is reporting.
18-year-old Yue Zhang is a Chinese foreign exchange student currently studying in Nashville, Indiana, a small town just down the road from Indianapolis.
— DINKtravelers (@DINKtravelers) February 2, 2016
Last Thursday, Zhang was taking pictures of town landmarks for a school assignment, according to WBIW (Bedford, Indiana), when she heard a man yelling at her.
“I am going to kill you.”
The man, later identified as 59-year-old Dana Ericson, ran across the street and assaulted the young woman with a hatchet, striking her twice near her spine. As the young woman screamed in pain, police quickly arrested Ericson, who told the cops he is a white supremacist who attacked the girl because he “hates these people” and was carrying out “ethnic cleansing.”
“Is it a crime to strike evil?”
Zhang suffered two deep lacerations to her back, each about two inches deep and an inch wide. Her assailant narrowly missed her spine, an injury that could have paralyzed her or even been fatal. Fortunately, investigators believe that the young woman’s thick winter coat prevented her from suffering even worse injuries. She was treated at a local hospital and was released.
Dana Ericson is known to neighbors in the small Indiana town as a local troublemaker with a history of mental illness. Over the past 20 years, he’s had multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and has been in and out of care. He also has a long rap sheet, with arrests for battery, intimidation, resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct, stalking, among other crimes.
Witnesses say he was likely off his medications the day of the assault, according to a witness who spoke to WXIN (Indianapolis).
“The guy didn’t act right. He wasn’t normal.”
At his arraignment in court on Monday, Ericson shouted at the presiding judge.
“I don’t believe in your law. Your laws are a bunch of crap.”
He was committed to a psychiatric hospital for 72 hours while he undergoes an evaluation, and prosecutors decide what crimes to charge him with.
Neighbors in this small Indiana town are shocked that such a heinous crime could take place in their otherwise idyllic community.
— Filipe Moura (@SunKuWriter) February 14, 2016
Nashville business owner Tina Hunt told WXIN that she couldn’t believe what happened.
“It’s scary and sad that they would do something to a poor little innocent girl like that.”
Last Saturday, Zhang’s classmates, and other members of the community, gathered at the Brown County Courthouse to sing, pray, and meditate on behalf of their injured guest, according to WHTR (Indianapolis). Brown County resident Norbert Garvey wanted observers to know that their community is a peaceful place, and Ericson’s actions don’t represent the people of Brown County.
“We’re upset about the attack that occurred here in Brown County. 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 saying that Ericson cannot be charged with a hate crime, because Indiana is one of the few states that does not have hate crime legislation on the books.
[Image courtesy of Brown County Sheriff’s Office via WXIN]