There have been a string of anti-Semitic attacks taking place just outside of New York City over the last few days with the most recent incident happening in Monsey, New York. A man named Grafton Thomas, from the Greenwood Lake section of New York, has been identified as the suspected attacker responsible for stabbing five people at a rabbi’s home late Saturday night, according to a report from NBC.
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said that the suspect was armed with a knife when he entered the home at 10 p.m. Saturday was the seventh day of Hanukkah, which was being widely celebrated in the predominately Jewish town not too far from the New Jersey state line. There were also as many as 70 people at the home during the attack, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has called an “act of terrorism.”
Per sources within the community and witnesses who were at the scene, the Hasidic organization Chabad revealed details on the incident saying that someone at the home threw a chair at the attacker, which chased him off.
NBC reports that Thomas allegedly tried to enter the synagogue next door, but those inside the place of worship barricaded themselves in. Witness say he fled the scene in a silver sedan.
Thomas was arrested in Harlem on Sunday and a prosecutor said that he was covered in blood when NYPD officers apprehended him. He was ordered to be held on $5 million bail despite efforts to have him without bail, the New York Post reports.
The 38-year-old is also suspected of trying to cover up evidence by drenching himself in bleach, Rockland County Assistant District Attorney Michael Dugandzic revealed in court.
“When the NYPD made the stop, he was found with blood all over his clothing and a strong smell of bleach in the car, like he was trying to destroy evidence,” Dugandzic said.
He added that no one else is alleged to have played a role in Thomas’ heinous attack. The motive for the attack is not yet known.
Dugandzic also said that Thomas has no connection to any of the victims, noting the seriousness of the offense. “The defendant entered the residence, seriously injuring five people, one with a skull fracture who is still critical. He then fled the jurisdiction,” he said.
Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. His next court appearance is set for Friday, Jan. 3.
Black religious and civil rights leaders have since taken action against the divisive and hate-filled act. Rev. Al Sharpton, Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union, Hazel N. Dukes, President of NAACP New York State Conference and a number of other civil rights and religious leaders and elected officials will be holding a press conference with Jewish allies in Harlem on Monday to denounce anti-Semitism in the wake of the recent attack.
Other Black leaders have taken to social media to express their heartfelt concerns for the tragedy and those affected. Check out their reactions below.