A man wielding a knife burst into a Hanukkah celebration at an Orthodox rabbi’s home in the town of Monsey, New York on Saturday evening, wounding five people.
Police captured the suspect, who they have identified as 37-year-old Grafton E. Thomas, in New York City hours after the attack. He has been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, according to the Town of Ramapo Police Department, which is investigating the case.
The incident unfolded next to the rabbi’s synagogue in Monsey, a small town in Rockland County about 20 miles outside of New York City. Rockland County has the largest Jewish population per ca pita of any county in the United States, according to New York State. About 31.4% of the county’s residents are Jewish.
The attack comes amid growing concern about anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York and the surrounding region. In the most violent incident, four people were shot and killed in nearby Jersey City in an anti-Semitic attack that targeted a kosher deli on Dec. 10.
Just one month ago, an Orthodox man was stabbed in Monsey near a local synagogue.
Shortly before 10 p.m. on Saturday, people had gathered at the home of Hasidic Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg next to his synagogue, Congregation Netzach Yisroel, to celebrate the seventh day of Hanukkah. Thomas allegedly burst into the gathering, according to police and the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, and stabbed five people, including one of the rabbi’s children.
A witness, Josef Gluck, told the Associated Press that a man “came in wielding a big knife, sword, machete — I don’t know what it was.” Gluck told the AP that he hit the assailant with a coffee table.
Thomas fled in a car, but a witness spotted him driving away and gave the police his license plate number, said Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel, theAssociated Press reported. He was taken into police custody in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Weidel said the license plate number was “critical” to the arrest, the AP added.
Tiffany Harris was released on Saturday after punching and cursing at three Orthodox women on Friday.