Hanukkah Stabbing Suspect Left Boot Camp After Failing Drug Test, Lawyer Says

Grafton Thomas
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)

The suspect in the Hanukkah stabbings at a rabbi's home north of New York City Dec. 28 was kicked out of Marine boot camp after traces of marijuana were found in his system, his lawyer said Thursday.

Grafton Thomas, who is facing state and federal charges in the attacks, had also broken his wrist in training, defense lawyer Michael Sussman said in a conference call with reporters.

Sussman said he had reviewed documentation showing that Thomas left for recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in November 2002 after having passed "mental, physical and academic requirements" to become a Marine.

Between 60 and 90 days after his arrival at Parris Island, Thomas was sent home with a broken wrist.

"His mother was advised that a trace of marijuana was found in his system," Sussman said. "That's the only information we have about the nature" of his leaving the Marines.

Thomas' mother, Kim Thomas, a registered nurse who works at a Bronx hospital, said her son was looking for a purpose in life after graduating high school in 2001 and decided on the Marines.

Related: Hanukkah Stabbing Suspect Was Kicked Out of Marine Corps Boot Camp

"It was early after we moved up here" to Rockland County north of the city and "he was trying to figure out which direction he wanted to go with his life," she said.

Her son "met friends who were also thinking of being in the military and they spent time, you know, talking, and he decided he was going to go" join the Marines, she said.

Military officials told the Associated Press Tuesday that Thomas was separated from the service on grounds of "fraudulent enlistment," which could mean that he made false statements in the recruiting process.

Capt. Karoline Foote, a Marine spokeswoman, said she was barred from giving details on Thomas' separation. "Those specifics are administrative in nature and therefore information we are required to keep private," Foote told the AP.

Thomas, 37, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., was charged in Rockland County Sunday with five counts of attempted murder and one of robbery. He is also facing federal hate crimes charges.

The criminal complaint against him alleges that he entered the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York, Saturday night and used an 18-inch machete to stab and slash five Hasidic Jewish men.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the attack in Monsey was the 13th anti-Semitic incident in three weeks in New York state, and called it an act of "domestic terrorism."

Earlier in December, four people were shot and killed in what officials called an anti-Semitic attack at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, across the Hudson from Manhattan.

In the conference call, lawyer Sussman said his client was a disturbed individual who had gone off his antipsychotic medications. He said Thomas was diagnosed as a "paranoid schizophrenic" in being granted Social Security disability payments.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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