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Exchange Student Attacked With Hatchet Released From Hospital, Assailant Appears In Court

Last updated on Monday, February 22, 2016

(NASHVILLE) - After being struck in the back with a hatchet, 18-year-old Yue Zhang turned and took a photo of her assailant.

Zhang was struck while taking photos for a high school class near Trolly's BBQ in downtown Nashville Thursday afternoon when 59-year-old Dana Ericson ran across Van Buren Street near the courthouse and hit her in the back two times with a hatchet.

Zhang's thick coat prevented her injury from being fatal.

Ericson told police he intended to kill the Asian exchange student.

He later told police he hated Asians and that he intended to kill the student.

Zhang was treated at a Columbus hospital for a deep, 2-inch deep laceration that measured about an inch wide near her spine and was released.

Ericson is facing charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery causing serious injury. He appeared in Brown County Circuit Court Friday afternoon.

Ericson who has a history of mental illness shouted at Judge Judith Stewart - "I don't believe in your law. Your laws are a bunch of crap."

Stewart approved a request from Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams to hold Ericson for 72 hours while Adams reviews the case and decides what charges to file. Judge Stewart also ordered Ericson undergo a psychiatric competency evaluation.

She appointed attorney Jacob Moore as Ericson's public defender, even though Ericson claimed he didn't want an attorney.

He will appear in court again Monday to be formally charged.

The Crime

Brown County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mike Moore say the attack "came out of the blue."

Ericson has a long history of psychological issues telling police he intended to kill the teen in an act of "ethnic cleansing. He told police he was a white supremacist and that he set out to kill Zhang.

Police say that the two did not know each other and there was no connection between Ericson and the teen's host family.

Ericson told police he was walking when he saw the teen taking pictures. He then yelled at her, ran across the street hitting her with a small Gerber hatchet with a blade about 4 inches wide and 6 inches long.

Police says Ericson hit the teen twice, a thick jacket the teen was wearing helped protect her from the attack.

The teen fell to the ground and Ericson ran from the scene. A female witness followed him , while others attended to to the teen and called police.

Officers found Ericson quickly and he was arrested.

Ericson's criminal record in Brown County list several arrest on charges of battery, intimidation, resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct, stalking and others. Several have been dismissed over the past 20 years after Ericson agreed to continue mental health treatment.

Court records show Ericson has spent a lot of time at IU Health Bloomington Hospital's psychiatric ward. In 2007, he spent months as an inpatient at the Evansville State Hospital, a psychiatric facility.*

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