The man accused of striking a foreign exchange student in the back with a hatchet in downtown Nashville Thursday afternoon called himself a white supremacist and the attack “communication.”

Dana Ericson, 59, Nashville, admitted to officers that he attacked the 18-year-old girl and said he was attempting “ethnic cleansing.” He said he targeted her because she is Asian.

He has been charged with attempted murder, a Level 1 felony; aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; and battery causing serious injury, a Level 5 felony.

Zhang Yue, a Brown County High School foreign exchange student from China, was taking pictures for a school project at the corner of Van Buren and Gould streets at about 2:30 p.m. when the attack occurred “out of the blue,” Sgt. Mike Moore said.

Witnesses reported to police that they heard Ericson yell something like “I am going to kill you” as Yue was walking away from the man.

He pursued her up a hill and she felt something hit her back. The officer’s report said she was able to take a photo of the man as he was leaving the scene.

Officers found him near the intersection where the attack occurred.

Yue was treated at Columbus Regional Hospital for a 1 1/2- to 2-inch-long and 1-inch-deep wound, which hit close to her spinal column, Moore’s report said.

She was released by Friday morning, Brown County Schools reported.

A press release from Superintendent David Shaffer said, “All of us in the Brown County Schools community express our heartfelt concerns to Zhang and wish her continued recovery.”

Ericson has a history of violent crime and of time spent in psychiatric hospitals, according to online court records. Since 2003, he has been charged multiple times with intimidation, battery, criminal confinement, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He used the insanity defense in more than one case.

Ericson is scheduled to appear in Brown Circuit Court at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19.

Through Facebook, local musician and music teacher Kara Barnard was encouraging people to send cards to “Z” at Brown County High School, P.O. Box 68, Nashville IN 47448. “Let this young lady know that she has a ton of support,” she said.

 

EARLIER VERSION:

An 18-year-old woman has been released from Columbus Regional Hospital after being hit in the back with a hatchet in downtown Nashville Feb. 18.

Zhang Yue, an exchange student from China, was taking pictures downtown at the corner of Van Buren and Gould streets when the attack occurred, “out of the blue,” Sgt. Mike Moore said.

Moore identified the suspect in custody as Dana Ericson, 59, of Nashville.

Moore said there was no relationship between him and Yue, nor with her host family.

He said Yue’s injuries were “serious, but not critical.”

A press release from Brown County Schools Superintendent David Shaffer on Friday morning said Yue had been released from the hospital.

“All of us in the Brown County Schools community express our heartfelt concerns to Zhang and wish her continued recovery,” Shaffer said.

Ericson is scheduled to appear in Brown Circuit Court at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19.