Federal grand jury indicts man accused of Hanukkah stabbings

Federal grand jury indicts man accused of Hanukkah stabbings
© Getty Images

A federal grand jury has indicted the man accused of stabbing five people with a machete during a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in New York, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday.

Grafton Thomas, 37, was indicted with willfully causing bodily injury to the five victims because of their religion and obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill.

“We now allege that he did this with the intention of targeting his victims because of their religion,” Geoffrey S. Berman, a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in the DOJ release. “As alleged, with his face concealed beneath a scarf, he slashed and stabbed the assembled congregants, fled, and left at least five victims in his wake. Thomas faces life in prison for his alleged violent acts of prejudice and intolerance.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Thomas allegedly entered Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home in Monsey, N.Y., with an 18-inch machete before stabbing congregants, causing injuries from slash wounds to a severed finger to a skull fracture.

Police arrested Thomas in Harlem after seeing blood on his hands and clothing and finding the machete with dried blood in his vehicle.

Authorities found anti-Semitic materials in his home and on his phone, prompting them to charge him with federal hate crimes. 

The attack followed several anti-Semitic incidents in the New York and New Jersey area, including a shooting at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher market that killed three people in early December.