Jersey City Kosher Market Was ‘Clearly’ Targeted, Motive Still Unclear: Officials

At least 100 bullets were fired in the harrowing, hours-long shootout that shut down all Jersey City public schools and terrified the community

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What to Know

  • One detective and three civilians were killed during a targeted shootout and standoff at a Jersey City kosher market Tuesday
  • A motive for the shootout remains under investigation, but local authorities said video shows the deli was clearly the target
  • Two suspects, identified by four sources as David Anderson and Francine Graham, were killed as well as three civilians inside the kosher market

Two rifle-wielding individuals parked a van — with a crude pipe bomb inside — outside a kosher grocery store in Jersey City Tuesday, calmly got out of their vehicle and immediately opened fire on people inside the store, authorities said the next morning, reiterating their claim the market was "clearly" targeted.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea said that while it was still difficult to comprehend the shooters' precise motive, an assessment of surveillance footage from the bullet-riddled scene showed what they said could be nothing other than targeted murder. A senior law enforcement official says the attack is now being investigated as a possible hate crime.

They park the van. They exit the van with long guns in their hands. And they immediately begin firing in the location where we lost three of our citizens yesterday.

JAMES SHEA, JERSEY CITY PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR

The footage shows the shooters, identified by four law enforcement sources Wednesday as David Anderson and Francine Graham, deliberately bypass other people on the busy street, aiming directly for people inside the kosher deli. Information continues to develop, and while authorities said Tuesday that it appeared the standoff began with the deadly shooting of a police officer at a separate site, Fulop and Shea said Wednesday that the bloodshed began at the market.

"We now know this did not begin with gunfire between police officers and perpetrators and then move to the store," Shea, the brother of NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, said. "It began in the store."

That store, JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive, had two customers and a cashier murdered. Also killed: veteran Jersey City Det. Joseph Seals, a dad of five. Here's what we know about their lives.

Shooters Anderson and Graham were primary suspects in a Bayonne homicide. Anderson was a member of the Black Hebrew Israelites, an organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and was linked to anti-Semitic and anti-police postings on social media. Here's everything we know so far about the shooters.

Shea and Fulop said Wednesday that two officers on a walking post one block south of the scene responded immediately, adding more lives may have otherwise been lost. An army of law enforcement responded seconds thereafter; a number of schools, which were left with bullet-cracked windows and damage Wednesday, are nearby.

The barrage of gunfire -- at least 100 bullets -- locked down all Jersey City public schools for hours Tuesday. Some had delayed openings Wednesday in the horror's aftermath.

Authorities at all levels of government -- at varying press conferences Wednesday -- emphasized the preliminary nature of the investigation. Some said the immediate threat appeared to be over, with the suspects dead -- but they also cautioned that they hadn't ruled out any others possibly being involved.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also confirmed in a Wednesday morning press conference, surrounded by leaders from the Jewish community, that two of the victims were Brooklyn natives -- Mindel Ferencz and Moche Deutsch. Deutsch was the son of a well-known Jewish community leader in Williamsburg.

"This confirms a sad truth. There is a crisis of anti-Semitism gripping this nation," he said. "There is a crisis of anti-Semitism in this city. It has continued to take on a more and more violent form."

Although de Blasio said the investigation is preliminary, he went on say that because it seems the shootout was premeditated and targeted a specific community "this was an act of hate and an act of terror."

Although de Blasio said there are no credible or specific threats directed at New York City, they are still in a state of high alert. 

De Blasio adds that he directed hundreds of officers to be assigned to crucial locations for the Jewish community in the city.

Additionally, de Blasio said the NYPD has been building a new unit over last few weeks to combat racially and ethnically motivated extremism. The unit will be known as REME.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the city mourns Seals and all the other victims in "this prolonged senseless act of violence."

The NYPD commissioner said that although authorities in New Jersey have the lead in the investigation, the NYPD almost immediately sent resources to Jersey City as it received word of the shooting, including members of the Intelligence Bureau, Aviation Unit and the Emergency Service Unit. The NYPD will continue to help Jersey City.

The commissioner also said that as the incident was unfolding Tuesday in Jersey City, the NYPD deployed resources to Jewish locations across the city as precaution.

Rabbi David Niederman, of Williamsburg, also spoke at de Blasio's press conference. Niederman knew Deutsch. He said that he does not accept that it was OK that these murders happened and feels that the Jewish community is not safe in the New York City area.

Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, co-director of Chabad of Hoboken and Jersey City, was with the surviving victim at the hospital. He tells NBC New York that the young man said he was grateful to be alive.

“It’s a very small community here in Jersey City. It’s only about 80 families, people that came from Brooklyn in the last few years," Schapiro said.

Law enforcement officials initially believed the incident was not terror- or hate-related, despite it occurring in a Jewish neighborhood. Fulop assured residents that there were no further threats, but the community "may see additional police resources" in the coming days and weeks.

Ronald S. Lauder, founder of Anti-Semitism Accountability Project said what took place in Jersey City “is yet another glaring example of how Jews are being violently targeted across the United States. It’s time to hold elected officials accountable: if you enable anti-Semitism or fail to take it seriously, we will see to it that you lose reelection. We will see to it before other communities become memorials. Looking the other way never has – and never will – end well.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted that Jewish communities in New York City would also see enhanced security measures out of an abundance precaution, though Mayor Bill de Blasio has said there is no credible or specific threat directed against New York City.

In a statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also extended condolences to the families of all the victims and said he is directing increase patrols around synagogues and Jewish establishments.

"We now know that this disgusting act of violence was a deliberate attack on the Jewish community in Jersey City. Out of an abundance of caution, I am directing State Police to increase patrols and security around synagogues and Jewish establishments while New Jersey law enforcement further investigates this horrific act," he said in a statement.

"Anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish community are on the rise both in our state and across the nation. We must stand united, be vigilant and stamp out this vile disease of hate wherever we see it. New York is a proud home to the Jewish community and we will continue to reject hateful acts whenever and wherever we see them," he went on to say.

The investigation is being headed by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office with the assistance of FBI and ATF agents.

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