Multiple stabbings at the home of a Monsey rabbi

Police outside a rabbi’s home in Monsey, N.Y., where at least five people were stabbed, Dec. 29, 2019. (Screenshot from WABC)

Ron Kampeas

JTA) — A man wielding a machete walked into a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York, and stabbed at least five people.

In a series of tweets, the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council of the Hudson Valley said that five Hasidic Orthodox Jews were taken to the hospital on Saturday night, two in critical condition.

The council said the assailant was an African-American male and his face was partially masked with a scarf. It said the attack took place at 9:50 p.m.

A Hanukkah party was underway at the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, which is adjacent to his Rottenberg Shul, when the attack occurred. The assailant fled in a silver car, according to reports.

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Rockland County police reported at around midnight that the New York Police Department had located a suspect and the vehicle involved in the getaway.

Police later identified the suspect Grafton E. Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, New York. Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel told the Associated Press that he faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.

The suspect was caught in his car after license plate readers on the George Washington Bridge and in Harlem helped police locate the vehicle, identified as a silver sedan, NBC 4 New York reported, citing an unnamed senior law enforcement official.

The Yeshiva World News reported that he was arrested covered in blood.

Thomas was arraigned on Sunday. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is scheduled to again appear in court on Friday, CNN reported.

Public defender Kristine Ciganek said in court that her client had no criminal history and lived with his mother. Bail was set at $ 5 million.

Monsey, an upstate town of some 18,000, has a large Orthodox Jewish population.

There has been a proliferation of attacks on Orthodox Jews in the New York-New Jersey area in recent weeks, including one on a Jersey City kosher supermarket earlier this month in which three people were killed along with the two shooters, a man and a woman who earlier had killed a police officer at a nearby cemetery. The male gunman was a black nationalist.

This is a developing story.