Emergency teams respond to machete attack in Monsey, December 29th 2019
Emergency teams respond to machete attack in Monsey, December 29th 2019REUTERS

The suspect arrested in connection with Saturday night’s stabbing attack in a Hasidic synagogue in Monsey, New York has been identified as 37-year-old Thomas Grafton, a law enforcement source told CNN. Other reports have claimed the suspect is named Grafton Thomas.

Grafton reportedly has been arrested in the past, including one incident in which he punched a police horse.

A resident of Greenwood Lake, New York – a town some 20 miles from Monsey, where the attack took place – Grafton was arrested at around midnight last night, roughly two hours after bursting into a synagogue in Monsey and stabbing five people with a machete.

One person is in critical condition, with stab wounds to the head.

Grafton will face five counts of attempted murder for the attack, The Associated Press reported, along with one count of burglary.

The attack took place at approximately 9:50 p.m. Saturday, while congregants gathered a Hasidic synagogue operated by Rabbi Rottenburg in Monsey, New York.

Some 50 to 60 people had gathered to light Hanukkah candles to mark the seventh night of Hanukkah, when the assailant, who was covering his face with a scarf, burst into the synagogue brandishing a machete, and began stabbing congregants.

Some congregants hurled chairs and a small table at the assailant, forcing him to flee.

The attacker drove off, making his way to New York City.

Police found him roughly two hours later, at around midnight, after identifying his car via the license plate number.

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the attack an act of domestic “terrorism”.

"This is an act of terrorism. I think these are domestic terrorists. They are trying to inflict fear."

Authorities have yet to comment on the motives behind the attack, but Governor Cuomo said the stabbings were clearly a hate crime.

"They're motivated by hate. They are doing mass attacks. These are terrorists in our country perpetrating terrorism on other Americans, and that's how we should treat it."