Witnesses reveal terrifying details of stabbing at rabbis Monsey home – Business Insider
Witnesses of the stabbing that wounded 5 inside a rabbi’s home are speaking out about the terrifying moments when an intruder burst into a Hanukkah gathering with a machete.
65-year-old Aron Kohn told the New York Times that the intruder “started attacking people right away” and wielded a knife “about the size of a broomstick.”
A suspect was arrested in Harlem about two hours after the stabbing, about 35 miles from Monsey, New York, the suburb where Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg lives, which has a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Before fleeing the scene, the attacker tried to enter the synagogue next door to Rottenberg’s home, but people inside heard screaming and locked the doors.
“Many dozens” of people had gathered in Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home in Monsey, New York, to light candles for the seventh night of Hanukkah when an intruder with his face covered burst onto the scene wielding a machete.
“I was praying for my life,” 65-year-old Aron Kohn, who witnessed the stabbing that left 5 wounded, told the New York Times. “He started attacking people right away as soon as he came in the door. We didn’t have time to react at all.”
Kohn said the attacker pulled a machete “about the size of a broomstick” from a case and started stabbing people. When he fled the scene, he first tried to enter the synagogue next door, where Rabbi Rottenberg leads the Congregation Netzach Yisroel. But those inside heard the screaming from Rottenberg’s home, and locked the doors.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) cofounder for the Hudson Valley region confirmed that one of the victims of the attack was Rottenberg’s son. All five Hasidic Jewish victims were taken to local hospitals, and two are in critical condition. The cofounder said one victim was stabbed five or six times, while the least severe injury was a cut in one victim’s hand.
Security camera footage tweeted by the OJPAC Hudson Valley region account purports to show video of the attacker “rushing to his vehicle after the attack.” In the footage, a figure can be seen running to a parked car and driving away, while another figure approaches from behind.
“Note someone following and trying to get a read of the tags on the vehicle,” the tweet says. “This enabled PD to release a BOLO and the attacker was arrested within hours.”
BOLO stands for “be on the lookout.” Two hours after the stabbing, the New York Police Department arrested a suspect in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, about 35 miles away from Monsey, a suburb with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jewish people.
The OJPAC account also tweeted a video that it says shows attacker’s car being transported by truck back to Rockland County, where Monsey is located. Officials confirmed the suspect’s arrest, but have yet to indicate whether the incident is being investigated as an anti-Semitic hate crime.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared the stabbing an “act of domestic terrorism” during a Sunday morning press conference outside Rottenberg’s home. He said the incident would be treated like any other act of domestic terror and described it as the intersection of “intolerance, ignorance, and illegality.”
Monsey resident Peggy Green, who is also Jewish, told the Times that she had been shopping at the nearby Evergreen Kosher Market at around 10 p.m. when she heard the stabbing had occurred. The market, which is usually open until midnight on Saturdays, closed early. She attempted to drive past Rottenberg’s home, but the street was blocked.
“It’s very scary,” she said, referring to being Jewish in Rockland County. The stabbing is not the first attack against the New York region’s Jewish community. It follows a November stabbing in the area, of a man who was steps from a synagogue on his way to morning prayers, along with the December 10 Jersey City shooting in a kosher market that left 6 people dead.
That night, the dozens of Jewish people who gathered in the rabbi’s home continued to worship at the synagogue next door. A video tweeted by OJPAC shows Rottenberg and members of his congregation singing and clapping.