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Suspect Held in Stabbings of 5 at NY Hanukkah Celebration

Man apparently stormed Hanukkah celebration an hour north of NYC
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2019 5:32 AM CST
Updated Dec 29, 2019 10:07 AM CST

(Newser) – A suspect is in custody after a man attacked a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home north of New York City late Saturday, stabbing and wounding five people before fleeing in a vehicle, police said. Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, will face five counts of attempted murder, police said Sunday. The attack appeared to be the latest in a string targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month. Police said the stabbings happened around 10pm in Monsey, one of several Hudson Valley towns that have seen an influx in large numbers of Hasidic Jews in recent years. Top state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James, condemned the attack, reports the AP.

Investigators cordoned off the large home on Forshay Road with yellow crime scene tape as of 3am. The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey was at the scene in Monsey, about an hour north of New York City. The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Hasidic rabbi while they were celebrating Hanukkah. According to public records, the home belongs Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the synagogue adjacent to the residence. Saturday was the seventh night of Hanukkah. Aron Kohn, 65, told the New York Times that he was inside the house when the stabbings occurred. "I was praying for my life," said Kohn, 65. "He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all." Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said the five people were taken to hospitals for treatment. Cuomo, who called the stabbings a "cowardly act" has directed the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate the attacks.

(Read more hate crimes stories.)

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