A man entered Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home in Monsey, New York during a Hanukkah celebration, stabbed and wounded five people, and then fled in a vehicle Saturday night.
The victims of the attack in Monsey, which is about 35 miles from New York City, were all Hasidic Jews. The town has a large Hasidic Jewish population.
A suspect was arrested in Manhattan nearly two hours later, police say.
The attack comes after a string of possible anti-Semitic attacks in the region. In New York City alone, there have been at least eight possible anti-Semitic attacks in the past week.
Earlier in December in nearby Jersey City, a shooting rampage at a kosher grocery store involving two gunmen resulted in the death of six people (including the killers). New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the attack was “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”
Following the Hanukkah celebration stabbing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that he is “directing the state police hate crimes task force to immediately investigate and to use every tool available to hold the attacker accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Here’s what we know, and don’t, so far.
What we know:
- Police say the stabbings happened around 10 pm, as around 100 people gathered to celebrate the seventh night of Hanukkah at Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s house.
- Five people were wounded; all were taken to local hospitals. As of Sunday morning, one victim, who suffered head injuries, remained in critical condition.
- Police have identified 37-year-old Grafton Thomas of Greenwood Lake, a community roughly 20 miles west of Monsey, as the suspect in the attack.
- The suspect will face five counts of attempted murder, and one count of burglary, according to police. His bail has been set at $5 million.
- Aron Kohn, who attended the Hanukkah celebration, told CNN that the attacker entered the home and pulled out a knife so large that it was “almost like a broomstick.”
- Eyewitnesses said the suspect was chased from the rabbi’s home, and then tried to get into a nearby synagogue. He was reportedly blocked from that synagogue by people who had barricaded the door from the inside.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo referred to the attack in a statement as “the latest in a string of attacks against members of the Jewish community in New York this week,” and said that “anti-Semitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity.”
- Other local, national, and international leaders expressed their sympathy and outrage as well, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, Democratic presidential candidates, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “We send our wishes of recovery to the wounded. We will cooperate in every way with the local authorities in order to defeat this phenomenon. We offer our help to each and every state.”
- New York’s hate crimes task force will investigate the Monsey stabbing; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised additional police resources to neighborhoods with large Jewish populations following incidents in that city, and reiterated this pledge Sunday.
What we don’t know
- The suspect’s motives.