Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was expected to appear in federal court in White Plains on Monday to face five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon and causing injuries
The Hanukkah stabbing suspect accused of attacking five people with a machete at a rabbi’s home has been charged with federal hate crimes after handwritten journals containing references to Jews and anti-Semitism were found in his house.
Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was expected to appear in federal court in White Plains on Monday to face five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon and causing injuries.
Thomas, who is accused of carrying out the bloodied attack on Sunday night on the seventh night of Hanukkah, had already been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.
It comes as newly emerged surveillance video, obtained by CBS, showed Thomas calmly walking through a bodega in Harlem just two hours after the attack and moments before he was arrested. The footage showed two NYPD officers approaching him with their guns drawn after Thomas, who was covered in blood and bleach, left the store.
Meanwhile, a criminal complaint said law enforcement agents recovered the journals from Thomas’ residence that included comments like ‘Hebrew Israelites’ took from the ‘powerful ppl (ebinoid Israelites)’.
His writings also questioned ‘why ppl mourned for anti-Semitism when there is Semitic genocide’ and included a page with drawings of a Star of David and a Swastika.
A phone recovered from his car included repeated internet searches for ‘Why did Hitler hate the Jews’ as well as ‘German Jewish Temples near me’ and ‘Prominent companies founded by Jews in America,’ the complaint said.
On the day of the stabbings, the phone’s browser was used to access an article titled: ‘New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What To Know,’ the complaint said.
Law enforcement agents recovered journals from his residence that included references to Jews and anti-Semitism. Defense attorney Michael Sussman said he visited Thomas’ home and found stacks of notes (pictured above) he described as ‘the ramblings of a disturbed individual’ but nothing to point to an ‘anti-Semitic motive’
Thomas was expected to appear in federal court in White Plains on Monday on the hate crime charges as new footage emerged of him calmly strolling through a New York City bodega (above) just moments before his arrest
Just moments after leaving the Harlem bodega, two officers approached him with guns drawn before Thomas, who was covered in blood and bleach, placed his hands on the roof of the vehicle and he was put in handcuffs.
Defense attorney Michael Sussman told reporters he visited Thomas’ home and found stacks of notes he described as ‘the ramblings of a disturbed individual’ but nothing to point to an ‘anti-Semitic motive’ or suggest Thomas ‘intentionally targeted’ the rabbi’s home.
He said he was not aware of Thomas’ journals that were seized by the FBI nor was he aware of any links to the Hebrew Israelite organization referenced in the writings.
‘I heard nothing from him which suggested any association,’ Sussman said.
‘I know that the Jersey Black Israelites were involved in the tragic events of several weeks ago,’ he said of the three people who were killed by gunman inside a Kosher supermarket in New Jersey in an anti-Semitic attack.
‘I know of nothing that connected him to that. Nor did he say anything that led me there.’
‘My impression from speaking with him is that he needs serious psychiatric evaluation. His explanations were not terribly coherent.’
Thomas’ family said he was raised to embrace tolerance but has a history of mental illness. His mother had repeatedly tried to seek mental help for her son, according to the lawyer.
‘Grafton Thomas has a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations. He has no history of like violent acts and no convictions for any crime,’ his family said late Sunday in a statement issued by attorney Michael Sussman.
‘He has no known history of anti-Semitism and was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races. He is not a member of any hate groups. We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness.’
The Rev. Wendy Paige, the family’s pastor, said: ’He’s never spoken about anything like that. He’s a Christian. The last time I saw him, we prayed together.
‘He’s very introverted. He doesn’t like to be around a lot of people. He’s a vegan and he’s very simple. There were moments when he would have trouble completing sentences and that would be a clear indicator that he was experiencing something that we don’t experience. From my experience with Grafton, he has been a calm, caring, loving person.’
Thomas was president of his class at a high school in Queens, according to his attorney. He attended William Paterson University between 2005 and 2007, the university confirmed, where he played football as a walk-on running back.
Thomas then served in the Marines for a short period of time before sustaining an unspecified injury, his lawyer said.
‘He held a series of jobs and from what I’ve read in the papers that are left, which are from the late 1990s, it appears that he had very neat handwriting, was coherent and attending to his affairs in those years,’ Sussman said.
‘He had a number of different jobs but it appears he went to college late, on some sort of football scholarship perhaps, in Patterson. He was in his early twenties after having various fairly short-term jobs and being in the Marines.
‘It appears that sometime within the last 10 to 15 years, he suffered a decompensation, which has been progressive and ongoing causing at least in his home to be present scripts and pills for major depressive disorder.
‘In speaking with him, he was able to explain his behavior with reference to various auditory hallucinations and one might say demons.
‘His explanations were not terribly coherent, which is what leads me to feel it’s critical that fairly immediately we have psychiatric evaluations done and not weeks after the event.’
Sussman refused to comment at length on his client’s mental state but said that ‘it may be that he was not compliant with medications he was prescribed to deal with severe depression and other manifestations or psychosis were not being dealt with appropriately’.
‘He was on medication like Prozac and he’s also on Seroquel [anti-psychotic]. There were other medications like Latuda [schizophrenia medication] that we found he had a prescription for it which I understand is an anti-depressant,’ he said. ‘Anti-psychotic medications, anti-depressant conditions, those sorts of medications. Whether he was medication compliant is another issue.’
His lawyer said he had been hospitalized multiple times this year but it wasn’t immediately clear if it was due to psychiatric issues.
Thomas’ family said his mental health has deteriorated over the years. He would hear voices and have trouble completing sentences at times, Paige and Sussman said.
Thomas said in court papers filed in a 2013 eviction case in Utah that he suffered from schizophrenia, depression and anxiety and that his ‘conditions are spontaneous and untamed.’
The suspect, wearing a hood and scarf, makes his way up stairs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s Shul carrying the blade
Images obtained by CNN show the devastation inside the home. One witness described the attack as a chaotic scene punctuated with panic and screams. The stabbings on the seventh night of Hanukkah left one person critically wounded, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The rabbi’s son was also injured, he said. Authorities have not provided a motive
Chilling images from inside the property show bloodied floors and overturned chairs following the assault
Thomas was arrested within two hours of the Saturday night attack in Monsey.
When police pulled his car over in Manhattan, he had blood all over his clothing and smelled of bleach but said ‘almost nothing’ to the arresting officers, officials said.
The complaint said authorities recovered a machete under the front passenger seat and it appeared to have traces of dried blood on it.
A knife recovered from the rear of the front passenger seat appeared to have dried blood and hair on it, the complaint said.
Thomas’ aunt said that Thomas had a ‘germ phobia’ and would obsessively wash his hands and feet with bleach, sometimes several times a day.
She said Thomas grew up in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn and ‘lived peacefully’ among Jewish neighbors. She said Thomas had not been taking his medication and recently went missing for a week.
‘They’re making him look like this monster,’ she said. ‘My nephew is not a monster. He’s just sick. He just needs help.’
According to the complaint, Thomas entered the rabbi’s home – next door to a synagogue – with a scarf covering his face and said ‘no one is leaving’.
Thomas then took out a machete and started stabbing and slashing people in a home packed with dozens of congregants, the complaint said.
His attorney said there didn’t appear to be a connection between Thomas and the neighborhood where the attack occurred.
‘This is very preliminary but what I can tell you is simply that there seems to be an alternative universe, looking at his writings and talking with him, and a set of auditory hallucinations or voices that are present for him, which is not unusual for people who suffer from his level of psychosis,’ Sussman said.
‘He seemed to indicate that there was a direction that he was following that evening. That direction as I got it from him did not involve violence toward other persons that involve destruction of some property, that obviously got out of hand.
‘How it got out of hand I can’t tell you, I wasn’t inside but my impression is that the situation he found where he went in was not the situation he expected to find. And that may have been a trigger for him.’
The suspected attacker stormed into the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibush Rottenberg at around 10pm and began wildly swinging a knife at some 60 worshippers gathered for a candle-lighting ceremony for the seventh night of Hanukkah
The five victims suffered serious injuries, including a severed finger, slash wounds and deep lacerations, the complaint said. It added that at least one victim was in critical condition with a skull fracture. The rabbi’s son was also injured.
On Sunday, Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. He was detained on $5 million bail and refused to answer questions as he was escorted to a vehicle.
Thomas’ criminal history includes an arrest for assaulting a police horse. A lawyer representing Thomas at the arraignment said he had no convictions.
The street in the rural village of Greenwood Lake, where Thomas lived with his mother, about 20 miles from Monsey, was blocked with police tape Sunday as FBI agents and police officers carried items from their home.
The attack was the latest in a string of violence targeting Jews in the region, including a December 10 massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey. Last month in Monsey, a man was stabbed while walking to a synagogue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said Saturday’s savagery was the 13th anti-Semitic attack in New York since December 8.
According to the official briefed on the investigation, authorities do not believe Thomas is connected to recent anti-Semitic incidents in New York City.
Rockland County, which includes Monsey, announced on Monday that a private firm has volunteered to operate armed security for certain synagogues. County Executive Ed Day denounced the attack during a press conference Monday.
Thomas’ mother sat on the front row at the event with a tissue in her hand but did not comment. Before the event started, she cried in the back of the room near her attorney.
Sussman said that Thomas was not ready to comment ‘given her level of upset’ but that she wanted to attend due to her worry for those who were attacked.
The attorney said: ‘She is obviously deeply concerned about those who were victimized by this as well as her own son and his status.
Grafton Thomas is led from Ramapo Town Hall in Ramapo, N.Y. following his arraignment Sunday. Thomas was charged in the stabbings of multiple people as they gathered to celebrate Hanukkah at a rabbi’s home in Monsey
Kim Thomas (center) mother of Grafton Thomas, the man accused of stabbing multiple people at a Hanukkah celebration, is comforted by Rev. Wendy Paige at a news conference in New City on Monday
‘She is a registered nurse. She’s worked at a hospital in New York City for many years. She’s come out of public housing projects to own a home in Greenwood Lake in New York to bring her son up in a manner which was as positive as possible.
‘She’s a native of Guyana. In 1986, she gained citizenship in the United States and she has been a law-abiding and contributing member of our community.
‘I already know that people have written all sorts of crazy things about immigration status, all sorts of accusations and allegations.
‘I think at a time like this being calm as possible and not responding with a great deal of hysteria and overdramatization; not allowing political leaders to make this into something it is not, is of paramount public importance.’
Monsey, near the New Jersey state line about 35 miles north of New York City, is one of several Hudson Valley communities that has seen a rising population of Hasidic Jews in recent years.
At a celebration in Monsey on Sunday that was planned before the attack, several members of the community stood guard armed with assault-style rifles. They refused to give their names when approached by an AP journalist, but they said they were there to defend their community.
‘The Jewish community is utterly terrified,’ Evan Bernstein, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey, said in a statement. ‘No one should have to live like this.’
President Donald Trump, a Republican, condemned the ‘horrific’ attack, saying in a tweet Sunday that ‘We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism.’
In New York City, the Rev. Al Sharpton appeared with Jewish and other faith leaders at his Harlem headquarters and said that he was disturbed and upset that several of the alleged perpetrators of recent attacks on Jews have been black.
‘We cannot remain silent as we see a consistent pattern of attacks on people based on their faith and who they are,’ Sharpton said. ‘You can´t fight hate against you if you aren´t willing to fight hate against everybody else.’
- Yom Kippur gunman admits his shooting rampage in Germany was motivated by anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism in 'very comprehensive' confession
- Suspects Charged in Tinder Murder: How Dangerous Is App Dating?
- French police charge suspects in murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll
- Crime Rising in UK, Ending Decades-Long Trend, as Police Numbers Keep Going Down
- How two housekeepers took on the president and revealed that his company employed undocumented immigrants
- Doctors release new recommendations to reduce gun violence
- New Year’s honours list 2017 in full – from Andy Murray and Victoria Beckham to Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill
- The ruthlessly effective rebranding of Europe’s new far right
- Smirking Jussie Smollett quits Chicago - leaving behind a city at war and the FBI reviewing HOW the incendiary decision to drop all charges was made, as prosecutors scramble to justify their call
- 'Nothing Short of Attempted Murder': A Brief History of Anti-Vaxxers
- New documents reveal Bruce and Nellie Ohr shared anti-Trump information
- Revealed: Hero filmed tackling London Bridge terrorist with a fire extinguisher was a heroin addict and convicted killer - before turning his life around after meeting Jack Merritt who died in the attack
- US Attorney says there is 'more to come' in the infamous case of Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance - hinting new evidence may have been unearthed as Martin Scorsese's The Irishman helps to renew interest in the 1975 mystery
- High school classmates and family pay tribute to teenage soccer player Javier Rodriguez, 15, as mourners gather at vigils in El Paso to remember the 22 who died in the Walmart shooting
- Marine Le Pen: the estranged daughter tied to a very public life
- Chancellor Sajid Javid reveals he was spat on by skinhead thugs as he chats about growing up in 1970s Britain
- PICTURED: Walmart gunman Patrick Crusius, 21, who went on 20-minute shooting spree with an AK-47 in El Paso, killing at least 20 and wounding 26, before surrendering to SWAT team - as police link 'anti-Hispanic' manifesto to shooter
- Inside the lair of one of Britain's worst sex offenders: Squalid flat of depraved Cambridge-graduate who sparked an international manhunt after preying on 200 victims is revealed as he is jailed for 32 years
- Two cops who shot dead Stephon Clark in his grandparents' garden after mistaking his phone for a gun will NOT face charges, as Sacramento DA reveals he had cocktail of drugs in his system and had searched suicide online
- Alleged Charlie Hebdo attack organizer lands in France, initial charges served
Hanukkah stabbing suspect charged with federal hate crimes served in the Marines, reveal his family - as anti-Semitic journals are found in his home and new footage shows him calmly strolling through a bodega hours after attack have 2922 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at December 30, 2019. This is cached page on Game Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.