Thomas Grafton was arrested for allegedly stabbing five people inside a rabbi’s home during a Hannukah celebration on Saturday night in Monsey, New York. He is seen leaving an arraignment on Sunday morning in Ramapo
A man accused of stabbing five people in a rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah celebration in a predominantly Jewish town in upstate New York on Saturday night has pleaded not guilty.
Thomas Grafton, 37, of Greenwood Lake, was arraigned on five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary in Ramapo Town Court late Sunday morning. His bail was set at $5million.
Prosecutors say Grafton stormed into the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg in Monsey at around 10pm and began wildly swinging a machete at dozens of worshippers gathered for a candle-lighting ceremony for the seventh night of Hanukkah.
He stabbed multiple people as onlookers threw a coat rack, table and chair in his path and chased him out of the home, witness Josef Gluck told DailyMail.com.
‘He was silent. Deadly silent,’ Gluck said of the assailant. ‘Victims were screaming and panicking. It was chaos.’
Grafton then tried to enter the synagogue next door, Congregation Netzach Yisrael-Kosson, but it was barricaded by people who had taken shelter inside. He then reportedly fled in a gray car, as seen in surveillance video.
NYPD officers located him 30 miles away in Harlem about two hours later and he was taken into custody at the 32nd precinct. He was covered in blood and bleach at the time of his arrest.
Officials were later seen in video from CBS New York marching Grafton, who is African American, out of the precinct in handcuffs before transporting him back to Rockland County.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council said the five victims, all Hasidic, were transported to local hospitals with stab wounds, two in critical condition. One man remained in critical condition midday Sunday after suffering a skull fracture. One of the victims is believed to be Rottenberg’s son.
The attack appeared to be the latest in a string targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month and six other anti-Semitic incidents over the first seven nights of Hanukkah, which began on December 23.
Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed reporters on Sunday morning and branded the Monsey incident an act of domestic terrorism.
Grafton, 37, pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary at an arraignment in Ramapo Town Court late Sunday morning. His bail was set at $5million. He is pictured leaving the court
The defendant, dressed in a white jumpsuit and gray booties with his hands cuffed behind his back, was silent during his arraignment, except for briefly conferring with the public defender who entered his plea of not guilty
The suspected attacker stormed into the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg at around 10pm and began wildly swinging a knife at some 60 worshippers gathered for a candle-lighting ceremony for the seventh night of Hanukkah
Witness Josef Gluck (pictured), one of the dozens of worshippers gathered at Rottenberg’s home for a candle-lighting ceremony for the seventh night of Hanukkah, described the horror attack to DailyMail.com
Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed reporters outside Rottenberg’s home on Sunday morning and condemned the incident as an act of domestic terrorism
Congregants at Congregation Netzach Yisrael-Kosson are seen inside the synagogue hours after the attack on Sunday
Gov Cuomo is seen leaving Rottenburg’s home with the rabbi (second left) on Sunday morning
Around 50 to 70 people were inside Rottenberg’s home on Forshay Road when the attack unfolded. They were preparing to leave and make their way to the synagogue, Congregation Netzach Yisrael-Kosson, known locally as Rabbi Rottenberg’s Shul, for a service when the suspect entered wearing gloves and a scarf that obscured his face.
Gluck, 32, described the horror incident to DailyMail.com outside Rottenberg’s home on Sunday morning.
‘He was a big husky guy with a scarf over his face and nose. Only saw his forehead and eyes,’ Gluck said of the suspect.
‘He came in wielding a big knife, sword, machete – I don’t know what it was – and he started hitting people right and left.
Gluck continued: ‘He went into the dining room, hit someone there and then went through to the kitchen, swiped at more people. He then came back in the dining room where I tried to get him to run after me but he didn’t come so I came back so threw a coffee table at the guy and then he chased me.
‘I ran through a door and he started screaming: “Hey you, I’ll get you.” So I screamed for everyone to get away so nobody got hurt.
‘He then ran towards the synagogue, tried with one door it didn’t open. He then tried a second door ran to his car and drove away.’
Gluck said he ran after the fleeing car and memorized the license plate number as it drove off.
Gluck (second left) said he tried to stop the assailant by throwing a coffee table at him
Surveillance video from a home in Monsey showed the suspect fleeing the scene of the stabbing and getting into a gray car
Jole Spitzer, who lives across the street from Rottenberg, said he ran home after hearing about the attack.
‘It was like a war zone. People being wheeled out of the house on stretchers and it was chaotic,’ Spitzer told DailyMail.com.
He said he didn’t know the victims by name but had seen them around the neighborhood.
Nachman Wilner, an EMT who lives two doors down from Rottenberg, told DailyMail.com he was celebrating Hanukkah with family when they heard a commotion outside.
‘We heard some sirens and then we heard more and it didn’t stop for quite a few minutes,’ Wilner said.
‘I came out side and it was like a Christmas tree all down the road with the amount of flashing lights. There was a lot of chaos.
‘We thought maybe it was a fire to start with but once we heard what it was it was frightening. We tried to keep the kids calm by telling them that somebody probably just hurt themselves – but they’re not that stupid. It was just so frightening.’
Wilner said he stayed at the scene for most of the night to help tend to victims.
‘Everyone was so afraid, questioning what happened, why this house, was it a target? It was chaotic for some time,’ he said.
Both Wilner and Spitzer said they had never heard of Grafton.
‘I don’t think he knew the neighborhood well because if he was looking for a large group of people, the synagogue was right next to the house,’ Spitzer said. ‘He would’ve gone in there first, before the house.’
Law enforcement is pictured at the scene on Forshay Road in Monsey in the wake of the horror attack
Investigators are seen coming out of the rabbi’s home in Monsey on Saturday
Five people were stabbed in the attack. Witnesses said the attacker then fled the scene in a gray four-door Nissan sedan
Video circulating on Twitter shows emergency vehicles and ambulances hurriedly evacuating victims from a home on Forshey Road in Monsey, New York, a small hamlet in Rockland County just north of New York City
A first responder evacuates a stabbing victim outside a synagogue in Monsey, New York, late Saturday evening
Grafton is seen leaving the NYPD’s 32nd precinct in handcuffs hours after the attack in video from CBS New York
Officials are seen marching the suspect out of the NYPD’s 32nd precinct after his arrest in Harlem
Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack but said Grafton had no ties to the home.
In addition to the $5million bail, a judge issued five orders of protection for the victims and prohibited Grafton from going near the scene of the attack.
The defendant, dressed in a white jumpsuit and gray booties with his hands cuffed behind his back, was silent during his arraignment, except for briefly conferring with the public defender who entered his plea of not guilty.
On leaving court, Thomas remained silent when asked by reporters what was his motive for the violent attack.
He has the option to request a lower bail at a hearing on Monday, but will otherwise appear back in court on Friday, January 3.
Grafton lives with his mother in Greenwood Lake, officials said, and has no prior criminal convictions but has one previous arrest on his record.
A neighbor who did not give her name told DailyMail.com that the suspect’s mom, Kim Thomas, is her friend. The neighbor said Ms Thomas is ‘suffering’ and did not expect what happened.
‘She’s overwhelmed,’ she said.
When asked if the suspect had mental health problems the neighbor replied: ‘Yes.’
Orthodox Jewish people listen to New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind speak in Monsey hours after the attack
Two Orthodox Jewish men speak to law enforcement officials at the scene
Onlookers stand on the corner of Forshay Road amid a large law enforcement presence at the scene
Police tape and investigators are seen in front of the home on Forshay Road in Monsey late on Saturday night
Investigators are seen outside the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg in Monsey, New York, on Saturday
A massive emergency response is seen outside of the home on Forshay Road in Monsey late Saturday
The image above shows Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg (sitting). Rottenberg is the leader of Congregation Netzach Yisrael-Kosson. This photo is said to have been taken moments before the attack on Saturday
After the attack, the rabbi was seen addressing his congregants in Yiddish in video circulated on social media
The rabbi made remarks and then led the congregants in what appeared to be singing and clapping
After the attack, the rabbi was seen addressing his congregants in Yiddish. Video circulated showing him talking to his followers.
The rabbi made remarks and then led the congregants in what appeared to be singing and clapping.
Monsey, a small hamlet located in Rockland County, is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community.
Last month, an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed as he was walking toward a synagogue, according to The New York Times.
An estimated one-third of the 320,000 residents of Rockland County are Jewish, according to census figures.
Amateur video shot by a witness in Harlem shows New York Police Department officers taking into custody a man believed to be connected to the stabbings of multiple people at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York, on Saturday night
A street-level camera image shows the car matching the make, model, and license plate as that given by witnesses in Monsey
Rockland County is the county with the highest concentration of Jews in the United States.
Gov Cuomo spoke to reporters outside Rottenberg’s home on Sunday morning and said there was no doubt the stabbing was fueled by hate.
‘This is an intolerant time in our country,’ he said. ‘We see anger, we see hatred exploding.
‘It is an American cancer on the body politics.’
Immediately after the incident Cuomo tweeted: ‘I am horrified by the stabbing of multiple people at a synagogue in Rockland County tonight.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted: ‘I am horrified by the stabbing of multiple people at a synagogue in Rockland County tonight’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: ‘Horrific. So many Jewish families in our city have close ties to Monsey’
House Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted: ‘My heart is with the Jewish community in Monsey, New York, tonight’
Chaim Deutsch, a New York City councilmember, tweeted: ‘Can Jews walk down the street without being attacked? Can Jews shop for groceries without being attacked?’
‘We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in NY and we will hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
‘NY stands with the Jewish community.’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: ‘Horrific. So many Jewish families in our city have close ties to Monsey.
‘We cannot overstate the fear people are feeling right now.
‘I’ve spoken to longtime friends who, for the first time in their lives, are fearful to show outward signs of their Jewish faith.
‘We will NOT allow this to become the new normal. We’ll use every tool we have to stop these attacks once and for all.
‘The NYPD has deployed a visible and growing presence around Jewish houses of worship on the streets in communities like Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Boro Park.’
New York State Attorney General Letitia James tweeted: ‘I am deeply disturbed by the situation unfolding in Monsey, New York, tonight.
‘There is zero tolerance for acts of hate of any kind and we will continue to monitor this horrific situation.
‘I stand with the Jewish community tonight and every night.’
House Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted: ‘My heart is with the Jewish community in Monsey, New York, tonight.
‘The reports of a hateful mass stabbing during Hanukkah are devastating & incredibly troubling.
‘We must do more to fight against anti-Semitism in America & I stand in solidarity with the victims & their families.’
Chaim Deutsch, a New York City councilmember, tweeted: ‘Can Jews walk down the street without being attacked? Can Jews shop for groceries without being attacked?
‘Can Jews pray without being attacked? Can Jews ride the subway without being attacked?
‘No – we can’t. We are sick of words. We need concrete action!!!’
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also condemned the attack on Twitter saying a collective effort is needed to stop future incidents.
‘Shocked and outraged by the terrible attack in #NY and praying for the recovery of those injured. #Antisemitism is not just a #Jewish problem, and certainly not just the State of #Israel’s problem,’ he tweeted. ‘We must work together to confront this rising evil, which is a real global threat.’
The New York area has seen a frightening uptick of anti-Semitic incidents in recent days.
New York City’s Jewish community is reeling from a spate of recent attacks believed to be motivated by anti-Semitism as de Blasio announced beefed-up police forces in affected communities.
Around the city, police have gotten at least six seven reports this week of incidents possibly propelled by anti-Jewish bias.
Besides making officers more visible in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, police will boost visits to houses of worship and some other places, the mayor tweeted.
‘Anti-Semitism is an attack on the values of our city – and we will confront it head-on,’ de Blasio, the Democrat, wrote.
At around 12:40am on Friday, a Brooklyn woman screamed ‘F*** you, Jews!’ and then slapped three other women in the face and head after encountering them on a Crown Heights corner, police said.
The victims, who range in age from 22 to 31, suffered minor pain, police said.
There has been a frightening uptick in anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area this past week. Surveillance footage filmed at around 5pm on Tuesday shows a 56-year-old Jewish man (circled) walking down Union Street in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn
Police released this image taken from surveillance cameras showing a man investigators believe is connected to the attack
Tiffany Harris, 30, was arrested on a hate-crime harassment charge.
Also on Friday morning, an unidentified man wearing a hoodie walked into the headquarters of the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch movement on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights and stated he was going to shoot up the place, according to WABC-TV.
The man then walked away, in the direction of the Utica Avenue subway station.
The Lubavitch movement is one of the largest sects of Hasidic Judiasm. Also known as Chabad, it has made Brooklyn the center of its activities since the leaders of the movement were forced to flee Europe at the start of the Second World War.
At around 3:20pm on Thursday, a Brooklyn woman walking out of a Dunkin’ Donuts with her three-year-old son in Gravesend was attacked by a homeless woman who hit her in the head with her bag, according to police.
‘You f***ing Jew! Your end is coming!’ the suspect, Ayana Logan, 42, is alleged to have said to the victim.
The victim immediately dialed 911.
A nearby Good Samaritan who witnessed the incident followed the attacker, leading to her arrest, police told WNBC-TV.
The witness, Sean Lennon, said he heard screaming and saw the assailant flee the scene.
‘When the woman got the child ripped out of her arms and thrown to the floor I ran over and got between the two and made sure the woman was okay,’ Lennon said.
A media report on Friday indicates that a man threatened to shoot up the headquarters of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Lubavitch movement on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn (seen in the above undated file photo)
Lennon and a friend then followed the attacker until she was placed in handcuffs by police.
Logan has been charged with assault as a hate crime, acting in a manner injurious to a child under the age of 17, criminal possession of a weapon, and harassment.
On Wednesday morning, a Jewish man wearing a skullcap while walking in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn was punched in an unprovoked attack near 13th Avenue and 48th Street at around 1am, according to WPIX-TV.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter announced that there would be a stepped up police presence in Borough Park, Crown Heights, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn
No arrests were made in the attack.
On Tuesday, two separate suspected anti-Semitic incidents took place in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn.
A 25-year-old man was accosted by several people on Kingston Avenue who made anti-Semitic statements.
‘F*** you, Jew!’ one of the people yelled in his direction.
The victim was then doused with a Slurpee drink.
‘Anti-Semitism is an attack on the values of our city – and we will confront it head-on,’ the Democrat wrote
At around 5pm, a 56-year-old Jewish man walking down Union Street in Crown Heights was punched in the back of the head by one person who appeared to be part of a group.
Others are seen in the area taking out their cell phones and recording the incident. Surveillance video also shows them laughing and cheering as the attack took place.
On Monday, a Miami man was charged with hate-crime assault after police said he made an anti-Semitic remark and attacked a man in midtown Manhattan.
The 65-year-old victim was punched and kicked, suffering cuts, police said.
He had been wearing a yarmulke, according to former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has founded a group dedicated to combating anti-Semitism.
Steven Jorge, 28, is being held without bail, and a judge ordered a psychiatric exam for him, court records show.
TIMELINE OF ATTACKS ON JEWS IN NEW YORK
Friday, 7am – Man in hoodie threatens to shoot up Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Friday, 12:40am – Tiffany Harris, 30, is arrested for allegedly slapping three other women in the face and head on a Crown Heights corner
Thursday, 3:20pm – Homeless woman, 42, yells anti-Semitic slur and then strikes a Jewish woman in the head with her bag in front of her three-year-old son
Wednesday, 1am – A Jewish man wearing a skullcap while walking in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn was punched in an unprovoked attack
Tuesday – A 25-year-old Jewish man had a drink thrown at him by a group shouting anti-Semitic slurs
Tuesday, 5pm – A Jewish man, 56, was punched in the head by one person as others filmed the incident and laughed
Monday – A Miami man was arrested for making an anti-Semitic remark and attacking a man in midtown Manhattan
A message was left Friday for Jorge’s lawyer.
Governor Andrew Cuomo told a state hate crimes task force to help police investigate the attack, calling it ‘a horrific and cowardly act of anti-Semitism’.
‘It’s even more despicable that it occurred over the holidays,’ the Democratic governor said in a statement Wednesday. Hanukkah began on Sunday.
The New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force is also investigating three other episodes that may have been motivated by anti-Semitism:
A man reported that a group of teenagers converged on his six-year-old son and another boy, 7, and hit them from behind in a Williamsburg apartment building lobby Monday night.
The attackers fled.
On December 10, six people died, including two gunmen, a police officer, and three bystanders inside a kosher supermarket in Jersey City.
The four-hour gun battle at the Jewish JC Kosher Supermarket erupted after the pair shot the police officer at a nearby cemetery and then fled in a white van.
It ended after police crashed an armored vehicle through the wall of the market.
It was later learned that the two gunmen were members of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, a fringe group known for its anti-Semitic strain of street preaching.
‘It seems like it’s open season on Jews in New York City,’ said New York City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch.
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