Bail was set at $5 million for Grafton Thomas, accused of attacking people at a Hanukkah celebration Saturday night in Monsey, New York. Thomas was arraigned in Ramapo Town Court at 11:45 a.m. Sunday on five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. He pleaded not guilty.
Ramapo police officials said they are being assisted in their investigation of the violent home invasion by law enforcement partners including the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, the New York State Police, the NYPD and the FBI.
Thomas, 37, a resident of nearby Greenwood Lake, New York, was taken to the Rockland County Jail.
“We see anger, we see hatred exploding.”
Cuomo was speaking outside the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, in Monsey, about 30 minutes outside of New York City. Police say that Thomas had burst into the home during a celebration of Hanukkah on Saturday night, slashed at people and fled. Four people were stabbed, one is in critical condition. A fifth person was injured during the chaos.
One of the five people injured is Rottenberg’s son. All five victims are orthodox Jews, according to officials.
Quick Actions Saved Lives
Late Sunday afternoon, Rottenberg released a statement expressing gratitude to elected officials including Cuomo for his visit as well as to the various police departments that have assisted in the investigation.
“Your quick actions saved lives and led to the capture of the perpetrator,” he said. “Though we must all take the precautions that have unfortunately become basic security necessities– locking our shul and school doors and having an emergency preparedness plan – we will forge forward in faith and thanks that we continue to live under G-d’s protection.”
Praying For Life
Officials tell Patch that he was arrested without incident and had blood on his clothes.
Police say that the attack happened just after 10 p.m. on Saturday. Around 100 people were in the synagogue in the basement of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg celebrating the second-to-last night of Hanukkah when a man walked in and started stabbing people with what, officials say, was either a machete or other long knife.
The man fled and tried to enter Congregation Netzach Yisroel, the synagogue next door to the rabbi’s home.
Police say that witnesses said that people inside, hearing the cries from the rabbi’s home, locked the doors to the synagogue, preventing the attacker from entering the building.
“I was praying for my life,” a person who was inside the home, Aron Kohn told The New York Times. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”
Blood On His Clothes
Thomas was arrested by 144th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem just after midnight after officers from the 32nd Precinct stopped him.
A witness who had seen Thomas flee in a Nissan Acura was able to give police his license plate. A reader on the George Washington Bridge flagged Thomas’s car and officers from the 32nd Precinct were able to stop him.
Thomas’ criminal history includes an arrest for assaulting a police horse. A lawyer representing Thomas at the arraignment said his client had no convictions.
The FBI is seeking a warrant to obtain his online accounts and were scouring digital evidence, the official said. Investigators are also looking into whether he has a history of mental illness
The attack is the latest in a string of anti-Semitic crimes in the region over the past week. Arrests have been made in several of them.
Read the entire article here.