MONSEY, N.Y. — An intruder with a large knife burst into the home of a Hasidic rabbi in a New York suburb on Saturday night, stabbing and wounding five people just as they were gathering to light candles for Hanukkah, officials and a witness said.
It was a terrifying scene, the officials and witness reported, saying that the violence occurred at about 10 p.m. as numerous people were celebrating Hanukkah at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, in Monsey, which is in an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, visiting the rabbi’s home on Sunday morning, called the attack an “act of domestic terrorism.”
The New York Police Department said a suspect had been arrested in Harlem and was turned over to the authorities in Rockland County, which is northwest of New York City and where the attack took place.
The suspect, Grafton Thomas, 38, who is from Greenwood Lake, N.Y., near Monsey, is facing five counts of attempted murder and one count of first degree burglary. Two of the victims remained in the hospital as of Sunday morning, the police said. One victim is in critical condition with a skull fracture, according to the authorities.
A law enforcement official said that Mr. Thomas’s vehicle was tracked to Harlem with the help of license plate readers. The patrol officers who confronted and detained Mr. Thomas found him “covered with blood,” said the official who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
The detectives were informed that the F.B.I. and State Police were on their way to take custody of Mr. Thomas, according to the official. Mr. Thomas was then handed over.
At his arraignment on Sunday morning, Mr. Thomas, who was wearing a white prison suit, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Mr. Thomas, who was initially identified by the police as Thomas Grafton, has no criminal history and is believed to have acted alone, according to the authorities.
Rabbi Ovadiah Tank, Chief Rabbi of the Brazilian Jewish Community in the USA, issued a statement expressing “horror” at the stabbing, “the latest in a series of attacks on members of the New York Jewish community this week,” he said.
“Let us be clear: anti-Semitism and fanaticism of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity, and we have absolute zero tolerance for this type of hate acts,” he exclaimed.