NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) – The man accused of going on a stabbing rampage at the New York-area home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration was indicted on Friday on six counts of attempted murder, up from five counts the suspect was charged with previously.
The indictment also charges Grafton Thomas, 37, with three counts of assault, three counts of attempted assault and two counts of burglary stemming from the Dec. 28 machete attack, Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Walsh announced at a brief news conference.
The original criminal complaint filed the day after the assault charged Thomas with five counts of attempted murder – one for each victim authorities then said was stabbed or slashed in the incident – plus a single count of burglary.
Walsh declined to take questions from reporters, and a copy of the indictment was not immediately provided.
But the sixth attempted-murder count indicates investigators have revised their tally of victims, the most gravely injured of whom is reported to be a 72-year-old man who suffered machete blows to his head, leaving him partially paralyzed, comatose and breathing on a respirator.
Thomas is accused of storming into the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, a prominent Hasidic Jewish leader in a predominantly ultra-Orthodox community of Monsey, New York, and attacking guests gathered there for a Hanukkah celebration.
Authorities said Thomas fled by car to Manhattan, where he was arrested later that night.
Thomas, who according to his lawyer is a former U.S. Marine with a history of severe mental illness, was separately charged on Monday with federal hate crimes in connection with the attack.
Federal prosecutors cited journals they seized from the suspect’s home containing references to Adolf Hitler, “Nazi culture” and the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, identified by experts in extremism as an anti-Jewish hate group.
The attack in Monsey capped a string of incidents in which Jews have been physically attacked or accosted in the New York metropolitan area in recent weeks, including a shooting at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey that left two members of the Hasidic community dead.
“Fear has spread through our community, and we must restore peace. This is the first stop in that process,” Walsh told reporters.
Thomas’ attorney, Michael Sussman, has said his client’s actions were likely an expression of psychosis rather than bigotry.
Thomas pleaded not guilty to the original attempted-murder charges the day after his arrest.
House Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
(CNN) — The House of Representatives on Friday approved a historic $2 trillion coronavirus response stimulus package, clearing the way for President Trump’s signature.
The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in US history. It injects a massive financial boost into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses and industries grappling with the economic disruption.
Key elements of the package include sending checks directly to individuals and families, an expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hard-hit hospitals and health care providers, financial assistance for small businesses and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
“No bill is perfect, but we want to make sure that it at least comes near part of the way to being sufficient,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. She said she is already working towards a fourth coronavirus response measure: “We know that this cannot be our final bill.”
A bipartisan swath of lawmakers passed the stimulus package by voice vote, a process commonly used in the House for uncontroversial measures, after Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie attempted to force a full roll call vote — a scenario that had members scrambling to get back to the Capitol from around the country on Friday.
Congressional leaders blocked Massie’s effort, saying an insufficient number of members supported his request. A quorum of the House — 216 members — was needed to block Massie’s attempt. Members who made it to DC for the debate attempted to maintain social distancing, with some staying on the House floor while others sat in the upstairs gallery above the chamber, where the public usually sits.
Essentially, hundreds of lawmakers traveled to the Capitol in the 24 hours leading up to the vote, not to hold a full vote, but in order to prevent a full vote from happening. If a roll call vote had been taken, it would have been very slow: members would have voted in alphabetical groups in order to limit their social interactions.
Massie wrote on Twitter ahead of the showdown that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy worked together “to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from ACCOUNTABILITY.”
“Biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote? #SWAMP,” he said.
Streatham Stabbings Declared Terror Incident
Police have confirmed that an incident in Streatham,London is being treated as terrorism-related.
Multiple people are believed to have been stabbed.
Reports say that a man was shot by armed police officers and is dead.