Six people killed, including three people in a Jewish kosher market, a police officer and two shooters, was the unfortunate outcome of a firefight Tuesday between two suspects and law enforcement in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The shooting began at about 12:30 p.m. E.T. in the area of Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from Manhattan and brought in reinforcements from neighboring jurisdictions, authorities said.
It began with a deliberate attack on people inside a kosher market, with surveillance video showing the shooters exiting a van and firing into the store with long guns, city officials said Wednesday.
The fallen officer was identified as Det. Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the department and member of a statewide anti-violence unit, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said. “We believe he was killed while trying to interdict these bad guys,” he told reporters.
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Two officers and one civilian were in stable condition after being struck by gunfire, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said via Twitter. The wounded officers were identified by Kelly as Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez. They were both treated and released.
Jersey City Department of Public Safety Director James Shea said that “There were many other (potential) targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place.”
Shea added that investigators still do not know the reason for the attack on the store, and therefore are not considering the attack as anti-Semitic.
At the moment of the attack, there were two police officers near the store who rushed immediately there. They passed on information to colleagues and were shot and their assistance helped to save lives, Shea declared.
“Had they not been there in that location, more than likely more people would have died,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said.
The shooters have been identified as David Anderson and Francine Graham, according to a report by NBCNewYork.com that cited law enforcement sources.
Anderson was a onetime follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a theology dating to the 19th Century that asserts African Americans are God’s true chosen people, according to the NBC report.
Police found online postings connected to Anderson’s social page with anti-police and anti-Jewish writings, the report said. Investigators are looking to see if Anderson himself posted that material, the report said, citing four sources in law enforcement.
Mayor Fulop said Wednesday that surveillance video of the violent gun battle shows the kosher grocery store was targeted in the city’s Jewish community.
The investigation will take weeks and could stretch on for months, Michael Kelly said. “The crime scene is very extensive,” he told reporters, “and is at three locations, at least.”
Part of the investigation involves a stolen U-Haul truck, which Kelly said may contain an incendiary device and was being examined by the bomb squad.
There is no indication of terrorism, James Shea stated.
In a brief news conference Tuesday evening, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy praised the efforts of law enforcement, who “responded to this incident not knowing what they were entering, or if they would even make it out.”
“If not for them,” Murphy said, “I shudder, we shudder to think about how much worse today could have been.