The man facing attempted murder charges for a stabbing rampage north of New York City that wounded five people as they celebrated Hanukkah was raised to respect all religions but has a long history of mental illness and hospitalization, according to the suspect's family.

Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was arrested Saturday on five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary after he charged into a rabbi's house in Monsey, N.Y. With his face concealed by a scarf, police and witnesses say Thomas used a large, sword-like knife to attack members of the Orthodox Jewish community who had gathered on the seventh night of Hanukkah.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the incident was an act of domestic terrorism, telling NPR, "when you try to commit mass murder based on race, color, creed, you try to instill fear. That is terrorism."

As the community reels from the violence, and some talk about arming themselves to defend against future attacks, the family of Thomas is responding to the allegation that the violence was fueled by hate.

Thomas had no history of "violent acts and no convictions for any crime. He has no known history of anti-Semitism and was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races. He is not a member of any hate groups," the family of Thomas wrote in a statement.

And because of Thomas' history of mental illness, his family said they are asking that a mental health evaluation be conducted immediately.

"We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness for which, as noted above, Grafton has received episodic treatment before being released," the family said.

Thomas' family also expressed concern and prayers for the victims of the Saturday night stabbings. "We thank those who rendered medical attention to each of those injured," according to the statement.

Family members of those who survived the attack told NPR that some of the gatherers threw furniture, including a coffee table, at Thomas to thwart his attack. Witnesses said he stumbled out of the rabbi's home bloodied and attempted to enter a nearby synagogue, but it was locked. He then got in his car and drove away, though not before a witness took a photograph of his license plate number, allowing police to track him as he entered New York City. Authorities apprehended Thomas in Harlem.

Thomas was arraigned Sunday. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. His is being held in a local jail on $5 million bail.

What may have been the motivation for the attack remains under investigation by local authorities and the FBI.

The stabbings come not long after another act of violence directed at Jews on Dec. 10, when a gunman opened fire on a kosher market in Jersey City, N.J., in what investigators are calling a targeted attack.

Gov. Cuomo said Saturday's attack was part of a pattern of "hatred exploding" across the country. President Trump also condemned the attack as "horrific," urging national unity in order to eradicate anti-Semitism.

According to Cuomo, Saturday knife rampage was the 13th anti-Semitic attack in New York since Dec. 8.

"The Jewish community is utterly terrified," said Evan Bernstein, the regional director of the New York/New Jersey Anti-Defamation League. "No one should have to live like this. How many more times will it take for people in Orthodox Jewish community to be terrorized with violence before something changes?"

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