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Hate crimes charges against man accused in Hanukkah stabbing

The attack occurred amid a series of violent attacks targeting Jews in the region.
Credit: AP
Ramapo police officers escort Grafton Thomas from Ramapo Town Hall to a police vehicle, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Ramapo, N.Y. Thomas is accused of stabbing multiple people as they gathered to celebrate Hanukkah at a rabbi's home in the Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)

Authorities say they have found handwritten journals containing references to Jews and anti-Semitism in the home of a man charged with federal hate crimes in the stabbing of five people celebrating Hanukkah in a rabbi's house north of New York City. 

Federal criminal charges were filed Monday. Grafton E. Thomas was expected to appear in federal court in White Plains to face five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon and causing injuries. 

RELATED: Witness says tables, chairs thrown at attacker in New York Hanukkah stabbing

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The attack occurred amid a series of violent attacks targeting Jews in the region. On Sunday, Thomas pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary.  Public records show the rabbi’s home is next door to his congregation.

Aron Kohn, a witness to the attack told reporters in a video shared by CNN, "I saw him walking in by the door, I asked who was coming in, in the middle of the night with an umbrella. While I was saying that, he pulled it out from the thing, and he started running to the big room. He was on the left side, and I started throwing tables and chairs saying that he should get out of here." 

Kohn went on to say in the video, "he was bleeding in his hands, all over. I ran into the other room because I tried to save by life." 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo went to the house in the New York suburb of Monsey, where the stabbing of 5 people took place. Gov. Cuomo told reporters, "I consider this an act of domestic terrorism." The governor said that there should be a punishment in line with that sort of crime saying, "we are going to take the lead here in the state of New York and do just that."