Horrifying images have emerged of the moment an attacker armed with a machete burst into a Hanukkah party in upstate New York on Saturday and the carnage he left behind inside the rabbi’s home.
Grafton E Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, pleaded not guilty after he 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.
He is accused of stabbing five people in Monsey, New York. Chilling images from inside the property show bloodied floors and overturned chairs following the assault which has been labeled ‘an act of terrorism’ by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
One surveillance photo shows the suspect wearing a hood and scarf making his way up stairs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s Shul carrying the blade in his left hand.
Further images obtained by CNN show the devastation inside the home.
It comes as Thomas’ pastor says he’s mentally ill and not a terrorist. Reverend Wendy Paige of the Hudson Highlands Cooperative Parish said on Sunday: ’Grafton is not a terrorist, he is a man who has mental illness in America and the systems that be have not served him well.’
Police are also investigating whether Thomas is linked to another early morning attack at a Monsey synagogue, according to The New York Post.
That is said to have involved the beating of a 30-year-old man outside the Mosdos Meharam Brisk Tashnad religious center on November 20. The father-of-four is said to have been ‘approached from behind by one or more individuals’ and stabbed at 5.30am.
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The suspect, wearing a hood and scarf, makes his way up stairs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s Shul carrying the blade
Images obtained by CNN show the devastation inside the home. One witness described the attack as a chaotic scene punctuated with panic and screams. The stabbings on the seventh night of Hanukkah left one person critically wounded, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The rabbi’s son was also injured, he said. Authorities have not provided a motive
Chilling images from inside the property show bloodied floors and overturned chairs following the assault
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
A group of Orthodox Jewish men return to the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg on Sunday evening
Reverend Paige added: ’We are sending our condolences to the families of the victims. His mother sends her condolences and her prayers for all of the families.
‘I have been his pastor for a long time and he is not a violent person, he is a confused person. We ask that you would pray for the family and pray for those who have been harmed. We ask that you guys would respect the family and stay away from their homes.
‘We apologize to the families for him because we know this is not him. This is an action out of mental illness. Please understand that because a lot of families deal with that. As a pastor, I see it very often. So please let’s work on our systems for mental illness.’
Prosecutors say Thomas 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 on 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.’
Thomas 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 fled in a gray car as seen in surveillance video.
NYPD officers located him 30 miles away in Harlem about two hours later after an automated license plate reader alerted officers that the suspect’s car had crossed over the George Washington Bridge into New York City.
Surveillance footage showed two officers approaching his with guns drawn before Thomas, who was covered in blood and bleach, placed his hands on the roof of the vehicle and he was put in handcuffs.
Reverend Wendy Paige, far left, said on Sunday: ‘Grafton is not a terrorist, he is a man who has mental illness in America’
People carry boxes to a car from the home of the mother of Grafton Thomas on Sunday. Thomas is the primary suspect in the stabbings a day earlier at a rabbi’s home in Monsey
FBI evidence response teams search the home of Grafton Thomas’s mother after her son was arraigned on hate crime charges after an attack on a Jewish holiday celebration
Thomas is seen leaving an arraignment at Ramapo Town Court on Sunday morning
FBI teams search the home of Grafton Thomas’ mother in Greenwood Lake on Sunday
When asked what his motivation was and if he had ever spoken about Jews, Paige said: ‘Grafton has mental illness and that is the source of his confusion and these actions.
‘There has been plenty of help, I have been involved with seeing him get help. I have seen him in the hospital. The systems that be are not the best systems for someone like Grafton who is severely mentally ill. God bless.’
Thomas’ criminal history includes an arrest for assaulting a police horse but an attorney representing him at the arraignment said Thomas had no convictions.
Law enforcement sources searched the home where Thomas lives with his mother in Greenwood Lake on Sunday afternoon.
Local police cordoned off the street with yellow crime scene tape where the suspect lives in a brickfront two story detached house. An FBI evidence response agent was seen entering the home around 3.15pm.
The FBI is seeking a warrant to obtain his online accounts and were scouring digital evidence. They are also looking into his mental health history.
Grafton E Thomas was arrested for allegedly stabbing five people inside a rabbi’s home on Saturday night in Monsey, New York
Reverend Paige, who made the statement outside of Thomas’ home following a police search, was accompanied by Taleea Collins, a friend of his mother.
Collins said: ‘Grafton’s mom is like a sister to me. Grafton has always been a loving man towards me. He’s just a loving person.
‘I’ve never seen anything violent and I know that he’s suffered with mental health. We are praying for the families and praying for Grafton. We just want guys to know he is not a terrorist, he is a loving man with a lot of creativity and a wonderful spirit.’
Officials were seen 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.
‘This is violence spurred by hate, it is mass violence and I consider this an act of domestic terrorism,’ Cuomo said. ‘Let’s call it what it is.’
President Donald Trump also tweeted about the incident this afternoon, writing: ‘The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific. We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery.’
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.
Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed reporters outside Rottenberg’s home on Sunday morning and condemned the incident as an act of domestic terrorism
President Donald Trump tweeted about the attack on Sunday afternoon
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lights the first candle of the Menorah on the 8th night of Chanukah at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, on December 29. Hours earlier, the mayor addressed the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City and the stabbing of five people the night before at a Chanukah celebration in Monsey, New York
On Sunday evening Naftali Silberberg issued a statement on behalf of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Rottenberg, saying: ‘First and foremost, we would like to publicly proclaim our thanks to the One Above who performed a modern-day Chanukah miracle.
‘Last night’s brutal attack sent shock waves through our community and around the world; yet, with G-d’s help, the casualties were less extensive than what might have been. Our hearts and prayers are with all those who were injured, especially the elderly congregant who remains in critical condition at this time.
‘We would like extend our deepest appreciation to the myriad emergency response crews, police and official dignitaries, including local, state and federal officials who sprang into action with impressive readiness, professionalism and concern. Your quick actions saved lives and led to the capture of the evil perpetrator.
‘Following last night’s attack, Rabbi Rottenberg continued with his weekly Sabbath closure ceremonies known as Melave Malka. With singing and dancing the Rabbi and his congregants declared their gratitude for the lives saved and exemplified the message of ‘we will persevere’.
‘I thank Hashem for the open miracles we saw last night. 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 ultimate protection.’
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
NYPD officers located him 30 miles away in Harlem about two hours later and footage shows the moment he was taken into custody at the 32nd precinct. He was covered in blood and bleach at the time of his arrest
Surveillance video from a home in Monsey showed the suspect fleeing the scene of the stabbing and getting into a gray car
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
Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack but said Thomas had no ties to the home.
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.’
In addition to the $5million bail, a judge issued five orders of protection for the victims and prohibited Thomas 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.
Thomas has no prior criminal convictions but has one previous arrest on his record.
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Horrifying moment 'terrorist' bursts into Hanukkah party with a machete to stab five as carnage is revealed and cops link him to second synagogue stabbing - but his pastor says he's mentally ill have 2743 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at December 29, 2019. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.