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Police said looking at link between Monsey machete attack and previous stabbing

Victim of November 20 attack was repeatedly knifed and beaten as he walked to a synagogue before dawn, in an assault so vicious police initially thought he had been hit by car

Ramapo police officers escort Grafton Thomas, the suspect in the Monsey attack, from Ramapo Town Hall to a police vehicle, in Ramapo, New York, December 29, 2019. (Julius Constantine Motal/AP)
Ramapo police officers escort Grafton Thomas, the suspect in the Monsey attack, from Ramapo Town Hall to a police vehicle, in Ramapo, New York, December 29, 2019. (Julius Constantine Motal/AP)

Investigators are looking at a possible link between the machete attack at a rabbi’s Hanukkah party in Monsey and the stabbing of an Orthodox Jewish man in the same neighborhood last month, a law enforcement official told the New York Post Sunday.

On November 20, a Jewish man, 30, was repeatedly stabbed from behind and beaten by possibly more than one assailant as he walked to the Mosdos Meharam Brisk Tashnad religious center in Monsey at 5.30 a.m. The assault continued for several minutes and the father of four was critically injured.

The attack, some 70 yards from the synagogue and religious center, was so severe, police initially thought the victim had been hit by a car. Police did not immediately treat the attack as a hate crime.

The assailant, or assailants escaped and the weapon used was not recovered. FBI analysts were involved in the investigation as they tried to enhance low-quality surveillance video of the assault that was taken some distance away from stabbing, reports said.

The probe into ties between the cases came as a suspect, Grafton Thomas, 37, was arrested for injuring five people during a stabbing spree at a rabbi’s Hanukkah party on Saturday night.

Thomas, armed with a machete, allegedly entered the home of Rabbi Chaim Leibish Rottenberg, who was hosting a Hanukkah gathering, and began stabbing wildly at those present. In the ensuing melee, attendees hurled tables and chairs to fend off the knifeman, who stabbed five people before leaving the building in the direction of the nearby synagogue. He fled the scene after realizing the Jewish house of worship was locked, eyewitnesses said.

Two people were seriously injured in the attack.

Police declined to disclose any significant information regarding the suspect, but did announce that he had covered his face with a scarf during the attack.

He is being charged with five counts of attempted murder.

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