Suspect Indicted on Six Counts of Attempted Murder in Machete Slashing of Five Hasidic Jews During Hanukkah Party

A Rockland grand jury Friday indicted Grafton Thomas on multiple charges of attempted murder in the machete slashing of five Hasidic Jewish men celebrating Hanukkah during a party at their rabbi’s house.

Thomas, 37, pleaded not guilty to the charges during a Ramapo Justice Court appearance on Dec. 22 prior to the grand jury presentation. His case now moves to County Court for prosecution.

In addition to six counts of attempted murder, Thomas was also charged with three counts first-degree assault, three counts of first-degree attempted assault and two counts of burglary in the first degree.

“The defendant has been charged with a violent and heinous crime. This was an extremely brutal attack,” District Attorney Thomas Walsh said.

Thomas also is a suspect in the predawn attack and stabbing of a rabbi walking to synagogue on Howard Drive on Nov. 20, Police Chief Brad Weidel said Thursday. Weidel said so far there was no evidence that Thomas was involved in the November stabbing, but the police and FBI were investigating.

On Saturday night, Dec. 28, Thomas is accused of bursting into the Forshay Road house and swinging a machete at party-goers and stabbing them after declaring, “No one is leaving.”

Five men were seriously injured, including 72-year-old Josef Neumann, who suffered a fractured skull from a machete blow during the attack inside the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg of Congregation Netzach Yisroel.

Neumann has been in a coma since the Saturday night attack and underwent surgery Thursday at the Westchester Medical Center in critical condition.

The other men’s injuries ranged from a suffered a severed finger, and included slash wounds and deep cuts.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Steve Lieberman