MONSEY, NY (AP) – A knife-wielding man broke right into a rabbi’s dwelling and stabbed 5 folks whereas celebrating Hanukkah in an Orthodox Jewish group north of New York Metropolis, an ambush the governor mentioned Sunday it was an act of home terrorism fueled by intolerance and a rising hatred “most cancers” in America.
Police tracked down a fleeing suspect to Manhattan and made an arrest two hours after the assault Saturday night time in Monsey. Grafton E. Thomas had blood throughout his garments, he smelled of bleach however mentioned “virtually nothing” when officers detained him, authorities mentioned.
An computerized license plate reader alerted officers that the suspect’s automobile had crossed the George Washington Bridge into New York Metropolis about an hour after the assault. Thomas was arrested and detained about 20-30 minutes later, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea mentioned.
Safety digicam footage that NYPD launched Sunday night time confirmed two officers approaching Thomas’ sedan with weapons in hand earlier than the suspect positioned his arms on the roof of the automobile and handcuffed him. .
President Donald Trump condemned the “horrific” assault, saying in a tweet Sunday that “We should all unite to combat, confront and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism.
One witness described the assault as a chaotic scene punctuated by panic and screaming.
Thomas, 37, was arraigned Sunday and pleaded not responsible to 5 counts of tried homicide and one rely of theft. Bail was set at $ 5 million and he stays incarcerated. He didn’t reply questions as authorities escorted him to a ready car.
Thomas’s prison file consists of an arrest for assaulting a police horse, in keeping with an official briefed on the investigation who was not approved to debate the matter publicly and spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity. An legal professional representing Thomas on the arraignment mentioned he had no convictions.
Greenwood Lake Road the place Thomas lived along with his mom, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Monsey, was blocked with police tape Sunday as FBI brokers and cops carried objects from their dwelling.
The FBI is looking for a court docket order to get their accounts on-line and was monitoring digital proof, the official mentioned. They’re additionally his psychological well being historical past.
The household’s pastor, the Reverend Wendy Paige, mentioned Thomas has been affected by psychological sickness and that his household believes that situation was the reason for the alleged stabbings, not hatred of Jews. He mentioned his household is sorry for the ache he has prompted.
The stabbings on the seventh night time of Hanukkah left one particular person critically injured, Governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned. The rabbi’s son was additionally injured, he mentioned. Authorities haven’t offered a motive, and Shea mentioned investigators don’t consider, at the moment, different individuals are concerned.
The assault was the newest in a collection of violence directed towards Jews within the area, together with a Dec. 10 bloodbath at a kosher grocery retailer in New Jersey.. Final month at Monsey, a person was stabbed whereas strolling in the direction of a synagogue.
Cuomo mentioned Saturday’s savagery was the thirteenth anti-Semitic assault in New York since December eight and endemic to “an American most cancers within the physique politic.”
“That is hate-driven violence, that is mass violence, and I contemplate this to be an act of home terrorism,” Cuomo mentioned. “Let’s name it what it’s.”
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel mentioned it was unclear why the rabbi’s dwelling was focused or if a selected ideology motivated the suspect. In response to the official briefed on the investigation, authorities don’t consider Thomas is expounded to latest anti-Semitic incidents in New York Metropolis.
Senator Charles Schumer, DN.Y., requested the FBI to research potential hyperlinks between the Monsey stabbing wave and different latest assaults. The Simon Wiesenthal Middle mentioned it desires the FBI to create a particular job pressure.
“Sufficient speaking, it’s time to act to discourage those that unfold this hatred,” mentioned the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon.
The stabbings occurred round 10 p.m. Saturday on the dwelling of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, positioned subsequent to his Congregation Netzach Yisroel synagogue. The big home on Forshay Street remained cordoned off with yellow tape from the crime scene early Sunday morning. By nightfall, the tape had disappeared and a completely lit menorah glowed from a window.
“The man got here in holding a giant knife, sword, machete, I do not know what it was,” mentioned Josef Gluck, who hit the attacker with a espresso desk in the course of the assault.
“He pulled it off its stand and began swinging,” Gluck mentioned.
The eating room, he mentioned, emptied in cut up seconds. Whereas inside the house, the attacker didn’t say a phrase whereas finishing up the assault, he mentioned.
Levy Kraus, 15, mentioned he was close to the rabbi’s dwelling when he noticed a tall man enter with an object.
“He had one thing in his hand. It regarded like an umbrella. I used to be lined, ”Kraus mentioned.
Later, she mentioned she noticed the person run out of the home and yell at somebody, “I will catch you.”
Rabbi Motti Seligson, media director for the Chabad Lubavitch motion, mentioned he was instructed by witnesses that individuals fled the home and went to the synagogue the place they had been locked up. Rabbi Rottenberg led the service on the synagogue later, he mentioned.
Weidel mentioned a witness noticed the suspect flee in a automobile and alerted police to the license plate quantity. Police entered that data right into a database and used license plate studying expertise to hint the car to Manhattan, the place Thomas was arrested.
“It was crucial to the case,” Weidel mentioned.
Thomas performed soccer for 2 seasons at William Paterson College in New Jersey. Nobody answered the telephone quantity listed for his tackle and the voicemail field was full.
Monsey, close to the New Jersey state line about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of New York Metropolis, is certainly one of a number of Hudson Valley communities which have seen a rise within the inhabitants of Hasidic Jews within the final years.
At a celebration in Monsey on Sunday that was deliberate forward of the taking pictures, a number of group members stood guard armed with assault rifles. They declined to provide their names when approached by an AP journalist, however mentioned they had been there to defend their group.
Jewish communities within the New York Metropolis metropolitan space had been shocked after the lethal December 10 taking pictures at a Jersey Metropolis kosher market.
Six folks, three individuals who had been inside the shop, a police officer and the 2 killers, had been killed within the taking pictures and confrontation that New Jersey Lawyer Normal Gurbir Grewal mentioned was “fed” out of hatred of Jews and the forces of order.
Final month, a person was stabbed whereas strolling to a synagogue in the identical city That was the place of the assault on Saturday night time; required surgical procedure. It isn’t clear if the assailant has been arrested.
And final week in New York Metropolis itself, police acquired no less than six experiences, eight since December 13, of assaults presumably motivated by anti-Jewish bias. Mayor Invoice de Blasio mentioned Friday he would enhance police presence in Brooklyn neighborhoods which are dwelling to massive Jewish populations.
Extra New York Metropolis police might be dispatched to areas of Brooklyn with excessive Jewish populations, together with mild towers and extra safety cameras, de Blasio mentioned.
The mayor additionally introduced the formation of multi-ethnic and interfaith safety coalitions that may meet to strategize on stopping potential hate crimes earlier than they happen. He mentioned some Brooklyn metropolis colleges can even incorporate hate crime consciousness into their curriculum.
“The Jewish group is totally terrified,” Evan Bernstein, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey, mentioned in an announcement. “Nobody ought to need to reside like this. What number of extra occasions will it take for folks within the Orthodox Jewish group to be violently terrorized earlier than one thing modifications? “
Sisak and Balsamo reported from New York. Ted Shaffrey in Monsey, Jessie Wardarski in Greenwood Lake, and Gary Fields and Ryan Kryska in New York contributed to this report.