AT A GLANCE
- Suspect Grafton Thomas Pleads Not Guilty In Stabbing That Injured 5
- Suspect’s Family Says He’s Not A Member Of Any Hate Groups
- NYPD To Launch Neighborhood Safety Coalitions In Brooklyn Communities
- Private Security Firm To Provide Armed Patrols In Wake Of Stabbing
MONSEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — On Monday, the suspect in Saturday’s synagogue stabbing at the home of a rabbi in Rockland County was charged with federal hate crime charges.
Investigators also shared new details on what they found in Grafton Thomas‘ home, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Two NYPD officers in Harlem stopped the suspect’s car hours after his alleged Chanukah rampage. That bit of police work provided a trove of evidence for investigators, leading to the filing of federal hate crime charges against Thomas.
According to the criminal complaint, Thomas had journals with possibly anti-Semitic entries. One page had “references to Hitler and Nazi culture,” along with a “Star of David and a swastika.”
In Monsey, federal hate crime charges came as welcome news on Monday.
“To see that it’s being called what it is, and the governor called it ‘domestic terrorism.’ Now, federal charges are being filed. This definitely means there’s going to be severe punishment and it’s going to be handled for what it is,” said Rabbi Yisroel Kahan of the Oizrim Jewish Council.
— Tony Aiello (@AielloTV) December 30, 2019
The FBI found an 18-inch machete in Thomas’s car and also recovered a knife with what looked like dried blood and hair, Aiello reported.
No witnesses from Saturday’s attack at the Forshay Drive home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg reported seeing a knife.
Aiello has learned cops want to know if the knife is linked to last month’s stabbing attack on a Jewish scholar outside a synagogue on Howard Drive.
Federal investigators said Thomas did a Nov. 18 internet search for “German Jewish temples near me,” two days before the first attack.
“We trust God that the law enforcement officials who are tasked to do their job will do so and apprehend and get to the bottom of everything,” Rabbi Kahan said.
Five Jewish men, identified as Herman Frank, Nachman Indusky, Josef Neumann, Shloime Rottenberg and Joseph Weiss, were injured in Saturday night’s attack. A picture shows one out of the hospital with a bandage on his head, Aiello reported.
Meanwhile, 72-year-old Neumann remains hospitalized in critical condition.
“He has been stabbed about six times in the face, neck, chest area,” Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council co-founder Yossi Gestetner said. “He, at this point, is not responsive.”
Josef Gluck helped stop the attack, throwing a table at the suspect slashing people with a machete.
When asked what was going through his mind while he confronted the attacker, Gluck said, “I can’t figure why God gave me the merit to be the guy to save this place. I didn’t have any training. I just reacted on instinct.”
Gluck told CBS2, despite his shock, he followed the suspect to his car and took down his license plate number as he drove off.
Police tracked Thomas to Harlem, where two NYPD officers could be seen taking him into custody with their guns drawn.
WATCH: Rockland County Executive Announces New Security Measures
A private security firm is working with Rockland County on measures to improve safety in Orthodox communities. On Sunday, armed men guarded a religious ceremony down the street from the crime scene.
“One person told me, ‘We have sidelocks, we also need side arms.’ That was an interesting line. There’s obviously frustration, confusion, resolve,” Gestetner said.
Thomas pleaded not guilty Sunday to five counts of attempted murder and burglary and is being held on $5 million bond. The attack followed at least nine hate crimes across New York City in less than a week.