Police address alleged Monsey attacker's connection to past incident
Police say the man charged in the machete attack on a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey had been questioned by local authorities in connection with an earlier stabbing of an Orthodox Jewish man in the same town.
Ramapo police and town officials held a news conference Thursday to discuss security measures being taken in the town, as well as address speculation relating to the alleged Monsey attacker.
The Hanukkah stabbing attack injured five, including one critically.
The suspect, Grafton Thomas, was arrested more than 30 miles away in New York City, thanks to a neighbor who took down the suspect's license plate number, police say.
At the news conference held Thursday afternoon, Ramapo police and officials detailed how they would step up security following last weekend's attack at a rabbi's Monsey home.
According to Ramapo police, they've already implemented additional patrols from a number of different agencies. Officials say they will be adding cameras, lighting and an Israeli-designed security system known as "GABRIEL" which will allow schools and places of worship to send emergency responders live video feeds and send out mass notifications to communities in potential danger.
"At every entrance and exit road from the town, we intend to have a license plate reader, as well as within the town," says Ramapo Town Supervisor Michael Specht. "As we know, this individual was apprehended due to the fact that license plate readers are installed on the George Washington Bridge and in the City of New York."
Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel also addressed speculation that the alleged attacker was involved in a incident in November in which a Hasidic man was stabbed. He said Thomas' mother's car looked very similar to a vehicle caught on video surveillance near the scene of that incident.
Weidel says the camera footage is so poor, it can't be confirmed whether the vehicle was a Honda Pilot. The vehicle is currently being examined, and no evidence can confirm the connection.
"We're going to do everything, and I mean everything, that we can possibly do to figure it out. Not just get the bad guy, but figure out what prompted this attack and if there were any other reasons, motivations, that are associated with it."
Thomas is facing charges of attempted murder and burglary, and federal charges of obstructing the free exercise of religion with intent to kill.
Police are currently investigating why Thomas went into Rabbi Josef Neumann's home, and what connection he has to the congregation.