A Christian man brought a machete to a rabbi’s house in New York and stabbed five people as they celebrated the seventh night of Hanukkah. His pastor has already defended him in court.
Grafton Thomas was found with a bloody machete in his car, and blood and bleach on his clothes, after he stabbed the victims, two of whom are currently in critical condition. The stabbings represent “the latest and most violent in a string of anti-Semitic attacks” in the area, according to a report from Chabad.org.
The attack took place after Rabbi Chaim L. Rottenberg had kindled the menorah on the seventh night of the holiday in the presence of family and community members. As those gathered began to leave and make their way to the synagogue next door, witnesses say the attacker calmly walked in, drew his weapon, and stated that “no one is going anywhere.”
He then began swinging the knife wildly at people in the room.
A Chassidic man threw a coat rack, table and chair at the assailant, and chased him from the home.
The attacker then attempted to enter the adjacent synagogue, but was locked out by those who barricaded themselves inside.
The attacker came with a clear purpose: to attack and kill Jewish people. Incredibly, the brave individuals in the rabbi’s house not only chased him away, but also wrote down his license plate number so they could relay the information to police.
That ultimately led to the arrest of Grafton, a man with a criminal record who lives about 20 miles away from the crime scene.
They arrested the 6-foot-2, 190-pound man behind the wheel and identified him as 37-year-old Grafton Thomas. He had resided in both Brooklyn and in the upstate towns of Greenwood Lake and, most recently, Wurtsboro near Monsey. He had what appeared to be blood on his clothes. A bloody machete was found in the car.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo termed the attack an act of “domestic terrorism,” noting it was at least the 13th anti-Semitic incident in the New York area since Dec. 8.
To make matters even worse, if that’s even possible, Thomas’ “longtime pastor,” who has known him for a decade, is taking his side.
Rev. Wendy Paige of the Hudson Highlands Cooperative Parish, who described herself as Thomas’ longtime pastor and said she was speaking on behalf of his family, told reporters that the attack was an act of certifiable insanity, not terrorism. She said Thomas had long suffered from mental illness and had been repeatedly hospitalized for psychiatric treatment. She apologized to the victims on behalf of his family.
As the Daily Beast notes, though, even if a sickness was involved, he didn’t pick victims randomly. He targeted Jews specifically.
Thomas hasn’t spoken publicly since the attack, but his extensive criminal record and alleged motive speak volumes. May the victims get the justice they deserve.