Rabbi knife attack suspect appears in New York court

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent [**Rebecca Barry**](http://Rebecca Barry)

The suspect in a stabbing at a rabbi's home in a town north of New York City pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder in court on Sunday morning.

Police arrested Grafton Thomas, 37, in Manhattan within hours of Saturday night's attack in Monsey that left five people injured, one critically.

Thomas, 37, had blood all over his clothing and smelled of bleach, according to prosecutors.

He will face five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary following the attack, police said.

US President Donald Trump condemned the "horrific" attack.

In a statement on Twitter on Sunday evening, Mr Trump said: "The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific. We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism. Melania and I wish the victims a quick and full recovery."

Earlier, New York’s governor claimed the stabbings were an act of domestic terrorist and warned the attack on the Jewish community was evidence of a “cancer in the body politic”.

One person was very seriously wounded, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Sunday, and remained in a critical condition. The rabbi's son was also injured but his condition and that of the other victims was not clear.

The stabbings on the seventh night of Hanukkah come on the heels of a string of attacks targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month.

Mr Cuomo said this latest attack was fuelled by intolerance.

"This is an intolerant time in our country," Mr Cuomo told reporters outside the rabbi's home on Sunday morning.

"We see anger, we see hatred exploding."

He added: "It is an American cancer on the body politic."

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region tweeted reports that the stabbings took place at the house of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration.

Thomas was apprehended in a grey Nissan Sentra in Harlem shortly after the attack.

The large home on Forshay Road remained cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape early on Sunday. According to public records, the home belongs to Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, who leads the adjacent synagogue.

Andrew Cuomo visited the home on Sunday. Credit: AP

Aron Kohn told The New York Times he was inside the residence during the stabbings.

"I was praying for my life," said Mr Kohn, 65. "He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn't have time to react at all."

The attack drew condemnation from top state officials, as well as from Israel's president and prime minister.

"Israel unequivocally condemns the recent expressions of anti-Semitism and the vicious attack in the middle of Hanukkah on the rabbi's house in Monsey, New York," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

An ambulance outside the property after the attack on Saturday night. Credit: AP

Jewish communities in the New York City metropolitan area have been left shaken following a deadly December 10 shooting rampage at a Jersey City kosher market.

Six people - three people who had been inside the store, a police officer and the two killers - died in the gun battle and stand-off that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said was "fuelled" by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.

Last month, a man was stabbed while walking to a synagogue in the same town that was the site of Saturday night's attack.