A brutal assault occurred on Saturday night in a Jewish area of upstate New York, as a man, Grafton Thomas, reportedly crashed a Monsey Hanukkah celebration and hurt five people with a machete.
The main suspect in the New York Hanukkah celebration stabbing,s according to the police, is a 37-year-old African American resident of Greenwood Lake, New York, with a long history of mental illness.
He reportedly suffered from depression and psychosis for years. His family said in a statement: “We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness for which. … Thomas has received episodic treatment before being released.”
The alleged Monsey attacker gained access to the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg, while there was an ongoing ceremony dedicated for the seventh night of Hanukkah, and around 60 people were gathered for the religious event.
Once inside the building, Thomas started his assault and tried to stab as many people as possible with his weapon, before somebody succeeded in stopping him by throwing various pieces of furniture at the attacker.
Aron Kohn, who was inside the residence during the alleged attack, explained: “I was praying for my life. He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”
However, Thomas allegedly tried to redirect his attack at the nearby synagogue, but fortunately unsuccessfully as the people who inside did not let him in.
He then escaped the scene of the crime by speeding away in a gray vehicle.
As a result of the attack, Thomas managed to stab five, and all of his victims were eventually hospitalized, with two of them battling for their lives.
The suspect was eventually arrested by police officers after he managed to hide for 2 hours and cover a distance of 30 miles.
Since early December, this is the second brutal anti-Semitic assault in the area, as there was the attack at a grocery store in New Jersey and a couple of other less tragic events that were all directed at Jews.
Following the latest violent episode, Governor Andre Cuomo addressed the issue and classified it to be a terror attack of domestic nature.
Thomas has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and the bail was set at $5 million. Although his family claims that he has no known history of anti-Semitism, officials found journal entries inside his home saying the opposite. The findings led Thomas to face hate crime charges.
Thomas had joined the Marine Corps boot camp in 2002, he was let go in December for fraudulent enlistment.