The Hanukkah stabbing suspect accused of attacking five people with a machete at a rabbi’s home has been charged with federal hate crimes after handwritten journals containing references to Jews and anti-Semitism were found in his house.
Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was expected to appear in federal court in White Plains on Monday to face the hate crime charges as new footage emerged of him calmly strolling through a New York City bodega just moments before his arrest.
Thomas, who is accused of carrying out the bloodied attack on Sunday night on the seventh night of Hanukkah, is charged with five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon and causing injuries. He had already been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.
Surveillance video obtained by CBS showed Thomas walking through the bodega in Harlem just two hours after the attack. The footage showed two NYPD officers approaching him with their guns drawn just moments after Thomas, who was covered in blood and bleach, left the store.
Meanwhile, a criminal complaint said law enforcement agents recovered journals from his residence that included comments such as questioning ‘why ppl mourned for anti-Semitism when there is Semitic genocide’ and a page with drawings of a Star of David and a Swastika.
Internet searches on a phone recovered from his car included repeated searches for ‘Why did Hitler hate the Jews’ as well as ‘German Jewish Temples near me’ and ‘Prominent companies founded by Jews in America,’ the complaint said.
On December 28, the phone’s internet browser was used to access an article titled: ‘New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What To Know,’ the complaint said.
Thomas’ family said he was raised to embrace tolerance but has a history of mental illness.
‘Grafton Thomas has a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations. He has no history of like violent acts and no convictions for any crime,’ his family said late Sunday in a statement issued by attorney Michael Sussman.
‘He has no known history of anti-Semitism and was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races. He is not a member of any hate groups.’
‘We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness,’ the statement said.
Thomas said in court papers filed in a 2013 eviction case in Utah that he suffered from schizophrenia, depression and anxiety and that his ‘conditions are spontaneous and untamed.’
Thomas was arrested within two hours of the Saturday night attack in Monsey.
When police pulled his car over in Manhattan, he had blood all over his clothing and smelled of bleach but said ‘almost nothing’ to the arresting officers, officials said.
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Source: Daily Mail