CBS News reported Monday that Rockland County officials are calling for new security measures to keep the Jewish community safe following the Motzoei Shabbos Chanukah stabbing that injured five people at the house of Rav Chaim Leibush Rottenberg in Forshay, Monsey.
The county executive is expected to announce that a private security firm will work together with law enforcement to provide free armed patrols after the horrific attack.
Meanwhile, investigators are still working to determine why Grafton Thomas allegedly traveled from Orange County to inflict hate and suffering in the middle of Chanukah.
Police tracked a fleeing suspect to Manhattan and made an arrest within two hours of the attack. Thomas had blood all over his clothing, smelled of bleach but said “almost nothing” when officers stopped him, officials said.
An automated license plate reader alerted officers that the suspect’s car had crossed over the George Washington Bridge into New York City about an hour after the attack. Thomas was stopped and taken into custody about 20-30 minutes later, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Security camera footage the NYPD made public Sunday night showed two officers approaching Thomas’s sedan with guns drawn before the suspect placed his hands on the roof of the car and he was put in handcuffs.
Thomas, 37, was arraigned Sunday and pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. Bail was set at $5 million and he remains jailed.
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said it was unclear why Rav Chaim Leibush Rottenberg’s house was targeted or if a specific ideology motivated the suspect. According to the official briefed on the investigation, authorities do not believe Thomas is connected to recent anti-Semitic incidents in New York City.
Since the Dec. 10 massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey there have been 19 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., including 16 in New York and New Jersey, according to the ADL’s Tracker of Anti-Semitic Incidents. The tracker is a compilation of recent cases of anti-Jewish vandalism, harassment and assault reported to or detected by the group.