New York stabbing suspect pleads not guilty to attempted murder (Details).
A 37-year-old man pleaded not guilty Sunday to attempted murder in a knife attack that wounded five people at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the attack an act of “domestic terrorism.”
Brad Weidel, the police chief of Ramapo, which provides police and government services for Monsey, said a man armed with a blade attacked at around 10 p.m. , on the seventh night of Hanukkah. The attacker was arrested by New York police nearly two hours later in the Harlem section of Manhattan, NBC New York reported.
Ramapo police identified the suspect as Grafton Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake in nearby Orange County.
Weidel said the victims were taken to two hospitals. Their conditions were not released.
The suspect was caught in a car after license plate readers in Harlem and on the George Washington Bridge were able to locate him, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News. Investigators requested a search warrant for the vehicle to determine whether the weapon was inside.
Thomas pleaded not guilty Sunday to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, NBC New York reported. Partial cash bail was set at $5 million.
Thomas’ family said in a statement Sunday night that Thomas has “a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations” and that his attorney, Michael H. Sussman, had been instructed to seek “immediate mental health evaluation of Grafton.”
The family said Thomas has “no known history of anti-Semitism” and was not a member of any hate groups.
“We express our deepest concern and prayers for those injured physically and otherwise deeply affected by the events of Saturday night and our family’s earnest yearning for their well being,” the family said.
Ramapo Town Supervisor Michael Specht said the attack took place during a Hanukkah celebration at the home of Rabbi Chaim L. Rottenberg, next to a synagogue. Monsey is an enclave of ultra-Orthodox Jews about 35 miles from New York City.
At least one of the victims was “seriously hurt,” he said.
Chabad.org, the website of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, published details that the organization’s spokesman, Rabbi Motti Seligson, said were based on the accounts of witnesses and other sources.