Sunday, December 29, 2019

5 stabbed at rabbi's Hanukkah celebration by intruder with machete-type knife 

Five members of an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish congregation were stabbed on Saturday night by a man wielding a machete-type knife who barged into a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi's home in a New York City suburb and attacked victims at random, police and witnesses said.

The frenzied violence unfolded just before 10 p.m. in Rockland County as up to 100 people were gathered in Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg's home in Monsey for a candle-lighting ceremony to commemorate the seventh night of Hanukkah.

While a motive is still being investigated, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described the incident as "an act of domestic terrorism."

Cuomo directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate the latest in a "disturbing" string of at least 13 anti-Semitic attacks in the New York-New Jersey region, including nine in New York City.

"It's important for me to express to the rabbi and for all of the people of New York that intolerance meets ignorances, meets illegality. We see anger. We see hatred exploding. It's an American cancer in the body politic," Cuomo said during a visit Sunday morning to Monsey, a predominantly Orthodox Jewish community about 30 miles north of New York City.

The victims injured in the attack were being treated at area hospitals, included one man who is in critical condition with a skull fracture, officials said.

The suspect, who authorities identified as 38-year-old Grafton Thomas, sped away in a gray 2015 Nissan Sentra, which was later located in Harlem, police said.

Thomas, who is from Greenwood Lake, New York, was arrested in New York City on Sunday morning after officers stopped him and noticed blood on his clothes and the smell of bleach, officials said.

Thomas is now charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, police said. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Sunday morning and is being held on $5 million bond at the Rockland County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 3.


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