5 people attacked with machete during Hanukkah celebration in New York

Saturday night’s incident latest in string of attacks on Jews in New York community

NEW YORK – At least five people were injured after a brutal machete attack at a rabbi’s home where about 100 people were gathered during Hanukkah celebrations in Monsey, New York.

The suspect, allegedly a black man, broke into the house of Rabbi Rottenberg Shul around 9:50 p.m. local time and slashed and stabbed people with a machete and chased the victims as they fled.

The man then tried breaking into an adjacent synagogue where people were barricaded inside. He failed to gain entry and fled in a silver vehicle, according to some reports.

The Orthodox Jews Public Affairs Council said the victims were Hasidic Jews.

It’s not clear yet if anyone has died.

The New York Police Department Counterterrorism department tweeted that they are closely monitoring the situation.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the attack “a despicable and cowardly act.” 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York “will not allow this to become the new normal” and will “use every tool we have to stop these attacks once and for all.”

Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said at a news conference that authorities are still working the active crime scene. Weidel said police arrested a suspect and described him as a tall black man.

Hours after the attack Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., appeared at the Ramapo Town Hall in Ramapo, N.Y. Sunday morning, charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bail was set at $5 million.

Screenshot of suspect Grafton E. Thomas, 37, from reporter Nikita Ramos of News 12 Twitter video.

Reporter Nikita Ramos of News 12 posted video footage of the suspect on Twitter. She also said he reappears in court Jan. 3.

This attack is the latest in a string of attacks the Jewish community this week, said Governor Cuomo.

“Let me be clear: anti-Semitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate,” the governor said in a statement.

Last week Mayor de Blasio said the city increased patrols in the area after eight incidents believed to be anti-Semitic.

Bryan K. Barnett, President of the United States Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Rochester Hills (MI) issued statements on the attack at a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, NY.

“America’s mayors condemn in the strongest possible terms the numerous acts of anti-Semitism that have occurred in the New York area over the last weeks, including last night’s shocking attack in Monsey, NY during a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s home.  We stand with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and other New York and New Jersey officials as they work to prevent such hate crimes from occurring in the future, to comfort the victims and their families, and to heal the communities that have been attacked.

“These acts constitute domestic terrorism and as a nation we must recognize them for what they are and work to prevent them from occurring in the future, with the same commitment we have made to preventing international terrorism.

“Anti-Semitism and all acts of religious bigotry have no place in our cities, our country or our world. America’s mayors have spoken out collectively through the Conference of Mayors and individually in their cities to condemn hate and hate crimes whenever they occur and to make our cities and our nation more inclusive and compassionate.”

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will work with local authorities to tackle the anti-Semitism incidents.

“Israel condemns in every sense the latest anti-Semitic incidents and the brutal attack in the middle of Hanukkah at the rabbi’s house in Monsey, New York. We send wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured.

“We will work together in every way with the local authorities in order to help eliminate this phenomena. We offer our help to all countries.”

Updated Dec. 29, 11:52 a.m.

Photo Yiddish News/Twitter

Alberta Press staff

-reporter@albertapresleader.ca

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