A man has been arrested after five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s home in New York City while celebrating Hanukkah, in what the city’s governor described as an act of domestic terrorism.
According to law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case, the suspect was arrested with ‘blood all over him’, CNN reported.
Thomas Grafton, 37, was arrested while driving into New York City, after officers identified his number plate.
He will face five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary, according to Police Chief Brad Weidel.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said one person was very seriously wounded and remained in critical condition.
The rabbi’s son was also injured, however his status and that of the other victims is not clear.
Authorities have not provided a motive for the attack, but Cuomo said it was an example of larger problems in American politics.
He told reporters outside the rabbi’s home that this is an ‘intolerant time in our country’, adding that ‘we see anger, we see hatred exploding.’
He added: ‘It is an American cancer on the body politic.’
He said he thought the crime was an act of domestic terrorism and expected it to be prosecuted that way.
Police said the stabbings happened at around 10 p.m. on Saturday.
A witness saw the suspect fleeing in car and alerted police to license plate number, officers said.
The rabbi’s home remained cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape on Sunday morning.
According to public records, the home belongs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the adjacent synagogue.
Several state and local officials had described the location of the stabbings as a synagogue.
Aron Kohn told The New York Times he was inside the home during the stabbings.
He said: ‘I was praying for my life.
‘He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.’
The attack also drew condemnation from Israel’s president and prime minister.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘Israel unequivocally condemns the recent expressions of anti-Semitism and the vicious attack in the middle of Hanukkah on the rabbi’s house in Monsey, New York.
‘We send our wishes of recovery to the wounded. We will cooperate in every way with the local authorities in order to defeat this phenomenon. We offer our help to each and every state.’
Cuomo, who called the stabbings a ‘cowardly act,’ directed the New York State Police hate crimes task force to investigate.
He said: ‘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.’
Jewish communities in the New York City metropolitan area have been left shaken following a deadly December 10 shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market.
Six people – three people who had been inside the store, a police officer and the two killers – died in the gunbattle and standoff that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said was ‘fuelled’ by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.
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