Outside the rabbi’s home after the attack. Photo: Twitter Five people were stabbed when a man attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home on Saturday night in the suburb of Monsey, just north of New York City. The suspected assailant fled after the assault, but was later arrested in Manhattan. The attack, which New York Governor…
Five people were stabbed when a man attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home on Saturday night in the suburb of Monsey, just north of New York City. The suspected assailant fled after the assault, but was later arrested in Manhattan. The attack, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has called a “blatant act of domestic terrorism,” is the latest in a wave of anti-Semitic violence in the New York area.
Just before 10 p.m. Saturday, a man wearing a scarf over his face and wielding a machete rushed into the home of Rabbi Chaim L. Rottenberg in Monsey, New York, where dozens of people had just finished attending a candle-lighting ceremony for the seventh day of Hanukkah. According to witnesses, the attacker apparently told those inside that no one would be leaving as he closed the front door behind him. He pulled a machete out of a case and began swinging it at everyone he could. His victims fought back, throwing furniture at the man and preventing him from entering an adjoining synagogue, Congregation Netzach Yisroel, by barricading the door after the attack began.
December 29, 2019
One witness told the WashingtonPostthat it was a “miracle” the assailant hadn’t arrived any earlier, since the previously packed room had cleared out just minutes before — leaving the attacker with far fewer targets. A survivor, Josef Gluck, told the New YorkTimesthat the man screamed “I’ll get you” at him during the attack. Gluck said he fled out the back with a small child, then returned and tried to repel the attacker by throwing a coffee table at his face.
pic.twitter.com/wQhWp9SrdA— Motti Seligson (@mottiseligson) December 29, 2019 were able to locate and detain the suspected attacker in Harlem. He was covered in blood and his car smelled of bleach.
The suspected assailant was later identified as 37-year-old Grafton E. Thomas of Greenwood Lake, New York. Thomas, who is black, has been arrested at least seven times since 2001, according to a security official who spoke with the WashingtonPost. On Sunday, his lawyer said in a statement that Thomas has suffered ongoing mental health issues.
After being turned over to Rockland County authorities, Thomas was charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree burglary. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment on Sunday morning, and was ordered held on $5 million bail.
#MonseySynagogueStabbing suspect Grafton Thomas’ booking photo. He’s charged with 5 counts of attempted murder @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/vOIu7tDWzL— Jessica Layton (@JLaytonTV) December 29, 2019
His public defended said on Sunday that Thomas’s only previous conviction was for a driving related offense. But a security official told the WashingtonPostthat Thomas had been arrested at least seven times since 2001 for offenses including assault, injuring a police animal, and crimes related to controlled substances. TheTimesalso reports that in 2018, Thomas was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree reckless endangerment, and menacing a police or peace officer in Greenwood Lake.
Reverend Wendy Paige, who is Thomas’s pastor, insisted to reporters on Sunday that Thomas was not a terrorist but “a man who has mental illness in America, and the systems that be have not served him well.” She later told the New YorkTimes that Thomas had battled mental illness for two decades and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. “There hasn’t been anyone who has given a real solution to deal with a grown man who is dealing with schizophrenia, other than ‘Go home and call us if something happens,’” she said in an interview.
Mid Hudson News, also said: including at least nine reported assaults in less than a week which may have been hate crimes. The violence has heightened fears for a community already on edge after high profile anti-Semitic attacks across the country in recent years, as well as the deadly attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City earlier this month. declared in a letter to Governor Cuomo. They asked him to declare a state of emergency and deploy the National Guard to help protect Jewish communities in the state, as well as name a special prosecutor to investigate anti-Semitic violence in the state.
In the meantime, the New York Police Department has stepped up its patrols and visibility within the city’s Jewish communities.
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Everything We Know About the Monsey Hanukkah Attack