Federal prosecutors on Monday filed hate crime charges against 37-year-old Grafton Thomas.
He was apprehended Saturday night and is accused of stabbing five people during a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in the heavily ultra-orthodox New York suburb of Monsey.
The complaint, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, read: “When Thomas entered the Rabbi’s home he had his face covered with what appeared to be a scarf and said in substance and in part ‘no one is leaving’.
He then took out a machete and started stabbing and slashing people in the Rabbi’s home... the injuries include a severed finger, slash wounds and deep lacerations." The federal charges were filed a day after Thomas plead not guilty to five state charges of attempted murder.
An FBI agent said that handwritten journals confiscated from Thomas’ home contained anti-Semitic sentiments including references to Adolf Hitler, nazi culture... and a drawing of a swastika.
His cell phone is alleged to show multiple online searches for quote ‘Why did Hitler hate the Jews’.
On Monday morning - Thomas’ attorney Michael Sussman denied that his client had an anti-semitic motive for the attack: (SOUNDBITE) GRAFTON THOMAS’ ATTORNEY, MICHAEL SUSSMAN, SAYING: “My impression from what I’ve read and my conversation with him is there are severe psychiatric issues.
Whether those manifested in anti-semitism in that moment I can’t tell you, I don’t know.
It’s not what I heard when I spoke with him.” The incident follows on the heels of a deadly shooting inside a kosher market in New Jersey, and sparked renewed calls to combat religious hatred and bigotry.
Reverend Al Sharpton spoke out on Monday: (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST REVEREND AL SHARPTON, SAYING: "We rise particularly since the incidents involved blacks that have been arrested and charged to say that we will not be silent and that we condemn any attacks..." So far police say Thomas appears to have acted alone.