Hudson Valley Man Allegedly Stabs 5 During Holiday Celebration
A man from the Hudson Valley is accused of breaking into a rabbi's home and stabbing five as they celebrated Hanukkah.
On Saturday around 10 p.m., 37-year-old Grafton Thomas of Greenwood Lake allegedly entered a Hasidic rabbi's home in Rockland County, known as Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg's shul on Forshay Road in Monsey, with a machete and started stabbing people. Two of the five victims are in critical condition.
Witnesses were able to capture his license plate as he drove off and the NYPD arrested him in his car in Harlem after he crossed the George Washington Bridge. CNN reports he smelled like bleach and had blood on his clothes.
Thomas was charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count burglary. He pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $5 million.
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler issued the following statement following the arrest of the Orange County man:
“Whether or not it is determined that this particular crime was motivated by hate, there is no denying that anti-Semitic crimes are on the rise,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “I have full faith in the ability of the New York State Police and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office to determine the facts and circumstances of this horrendous event and proceed accordingly. Given the possibility, and what will be the public’s understandable and inevitable concern that this was a Hate Crime, particularly in light of recent anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn, and the tragedy in Jersey City, we must stand together and send a clear message that there is absolutely no room for hate motivated crimes here in Orange County, or anywhere else for that matter. Anti-Semitic actions and messages do not reflect the values of the overwhelming majority of Orange County residents. Those who engage in Hate Crimes will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted by my office. Resources that we have devoted to combating Hate Crimes include sponsoring training for police officers, in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, on recognizing and investigating Hate Crimes, hiring an investigator specially training in, and dedicated to, investigating Hate Crimes, and assigning a senior prosecutor to coordinate efforts to investigate and prosecute Hate Crimes. We have sponsored public service announcements in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County and have provided educational programs and materials in our high schools in an effort to prevent Hate Crimes before they happen. The District Attorney’s Office, with funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County, developed an informational brochure, Speak Up to Stand Up Against Hate, as well as a related poster, both of which are available for public distribution. I remind all Orange County residents that the District Attorney’s Office has established a Hate Crimes Hotline, (800) 378-1411, that residents can use to report hate crime incidents.”
President Trump called the stabbings "horrific" urging people "fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism." New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the hatred "an American cancer in the body politic."
A statement by Thomas' family said he has a "long history of mental illness and hospitalizations," according to CNN.