'Courage and bravery': Man who threw table at Hanukkah stabbing suspect receives award

Joseph Gluck lured the attacker out of the rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, by making himself a target, authorities said.
Image: Joseph Gluck speaks to the press about a machete attack during a Hannukah celebration in Monsey, N.Y., on Dec. 29, 2019.
Joseph Gluck speaks to the press about a machete attack during a Hannukah celebration in Monsey, N.Y., on Dec. 29, 2019.Kena Betancur / AFP - Getty Images

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By Doha Madani

The man who charged a suspect that stormed a Hanukkah celebration and stabbed 5 people at a rabbi's home in Monsey, New York, was honored Tuesday for what local officials called a selfless act of heroism.

Joseph Gluck, 32, is a lifelong resident of Monsey who managed to throw a coffee table at the suspect after the man allegedly burst into the rabbi's home. Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht said Tuesday that Gluck managed to get a young victim out of the way before getting the attacker out of the house.

"He lured the stabber out of the home," Spect said. "He set himself up as a target to deter him from attacking other people in the room."

During the entire exchange, Gluck also managed to have the presence of mind to get the suspect's license plate number as he fled from the home. The alleged attacker, Grafton Thomas, was caught two hours after Gluck provided police with a description of his car and license plate.

"I think Joseph is a very modest person," Specht said. "He is someone who doesn’t seek the spotlight, but he is somebody who found the right time and the right place to act heroically."

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Gluck was awarded the Ramapo Freedom Award, an honor created by the town in 2001 to commemorate the victims of 9/11.

The 32-year-old Hasidic man accepted the award by thanking God for being their protector that night. Gluck noted that the timing of the attack was a miracle.

"If he would have come five minutes later it would have only been women and kids there, there would have been no one there trying to protect them," Gluck said.

Conversely, Gluck said if the suspect had entered five minutes earlier, the room was so packed there would have been no room to run.

"He came just in the time that there were enough people to fight him off."

David Harris, the chief executive officer of the American Jewish Committee, said Tuesday that the Jewish community would not be defined by its attacker, but its ability to come together in the aftermath.

"Thank you, Joseph Gluck, for showing us what courage and bravery is all about. How to respond," Harris said.

Thomas, 37, pleaded not guilty Sunday to five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. He also faces five federal charges of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs involving an attempt to kill and use of a dangerous weapon resulting in bodily injury.

Thomas' family said in a statement Sunday night that Thomas has "a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations" and that his attorney, Michael H. Sussman, had been instructed to seek an "immediate mental health evaluation of Grafton."

The family said Thomas has "no known history of anti-Semitism" and was not a member of any hate groups.