MAN WITH ‘LONG HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLNESS’ PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN MACHETE ATTACK AT HANUKKAH PARTY
*Grafton Thomas, the man accused of stabbing five people at a rabbi’s Monsey, New York, home during a Hanukkah party has a “long history of mental illness and hospitalizations,” according to a family statement issued by his attorney.
As reported by the Daily Mail, prosecutors say Grafton stormed into the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg at around 10pm on December 28 and began swinging a machete at dozens of worshippers. He stabbed multiple people as onlookers threw furniture at him and chased him out of the home.
“He was silent. Deadly silent,” witness Josef Gluck told DailyMail.com. “Victims were screaming and panicking. It was chaos.”
Gluck continued: “He went into the dining room, hit someone there and then went through to the kitchen, swiped at more people. He then came back in the dining room where I tried to get him to run after me but he didn’t come so I came back so threw a coffee table at the guy and then he chased me.
“I ran through a door and he started screaming: “Hey you, I’ll get you.” So I screamed for everyone to get away so nobody got hurt.“
Grafton then tried to enter the synagogue next door, but was unsuccessful as it was barricaded by people who had taken shelter inside. Surveillance video captured the moment he fled in a gray car. Grafton was captured by NYPD about two hours later in Harlem.
Grafton, who is a Black American, carried out the attack with a knife that was the “size of a broomstick,” according to witnesses. He was reportedly covered in blood and bleach at the time of his arrest.
The five victims, all Hasidic, were transported to local hospitals with stab wounds, two in critical condition. One is said to be Rottenberg’s son.
Governor Cuomo called the incident “frightening” and “inexplicable.”
“I am deeply disturbed by the situation unfolding in Monsey, New York tonight,” New York’s Attorney General Letitia James wrote on Twitter. “There is zero tolerance for acts of hate of any kind and we will continue to monitor this horrific situation. I stand with the Jewish community tonight and every night.”
President Donald Trump tweeted, “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 attack is the latest in a string targeting the Jewish community in the region.
“Everyone was so afraid, questioning what happened, why this house, was it a target? It was chaotic for some time,” said Rottenberg’s neighbor Nachman Wilner, an EMT who help tend to victims on the scene.
Thomas has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. During arraignment court on Sunday, his bail was set at $5million.
According to heavy.com, “some media outlets reported the suspect’s name as Thomas Grafton or Thomas E. Grafton, but public records reveal it to be Grafton E. Thomas,” the outlet writes.