- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 9, 2020

The man accused of stabbing five people during a Hanukkah celebration in New York last month was charged with five additional federal hate crimes Thursday.

Grafton Thomas, 37, was indicted on five new charges of willfully causing bodily injury because of the victims’ religion. He had previously been charged with five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion in an attempt to kill.

All 10 counts carry a potential sentence of life in prison.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said Mr. Thomas carried out the crime “with the intention of targeting his victims because of their religion.”

New York state prosecutors already have charged Mr. Thomas with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. He has pleaded not guilty to the state charges.

Mr. Thomas is accused of a horrific machete attack at a Hanukkah celebration Saturday at the home of Rabbi Chaim L. Rottenberg in Monsey, New York.

Monsey sits about 35 miles from New York City and is known for its large, ultra-Orthodox Jewish population.

Prosecutors say they discovered anti-Semitic writings and drawings in his journals and on his phone. On one journal page, Mr. Thomas drew a Star of David and a swastika and also wrote about Adolf Hitler and Nazi culture, according to court documents.

Internet searches on Mr. Thomas’ phone included “Why did Hitler hate the Jews,” and searches for German Jewish temples and Zionist temples “near me,” according to court documents.

Prosecutors say Mr. Thomas barged into the home brandishing a machete and with his face covered by a white scarf. He told the worshippers that “no one is leaving,” according to court documents.

Police arrested Mr. Thomas in Manhattan on the evening of the attack after he allegedly fled the stabbing scene.

The victims were hospitalized with wounds that included a severed finger and deep lacerations. At least one victim who suffered a skull fracture was in serious condition.

The stabbing incident was the latest in a series of attacks targeting Jewish people across the country, particularly in the New York area. Earlier this month, a couple opened fire on a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, killing four people, including a police officer.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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