An intruder stabbed and wounded five people at a rabbi’s house in New York during a gathering to celebrate the Jewish festival of Hanukkah late Saturday, officials and media reports said.
The victims were taken to hospitals near the New York suburb of Monsey, two in critical condition, the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) tweeted after receiving a call at 9:50 pm.
“5 patients with stab wounds, all Hasidic, were transported to local hospitals.”
Local police departments, speaking to AFP, declined to give the number of people injured, but a suspect has been taken into custody and a vehicle safeguarded, an NYPD spokesman said.
Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said he was “horrified” by the “despicable and cowardly act”, and had directed the State Police hate crimes task force to investigate.
“This is an act of terrorism. I think these are domestic terrorists. They are trying to inflict fear,” New Cuomo told reporters.
CBS New York reported that a man brandishing a machete went into the rabbi’s property in Rockland County, and knifed at least three people before fleeing.
“I was praying for my life,” said witness Aron Kohn, 65, according to the New York Times, comparing the knife used by the attacker to “the size of a broomstick”.
Kohn also threw chairs and tables in an attempt to head off the attacker, he told CNN.