Suspects in New Jersey shootout targeted Jewish grocery, authorities say
(Updates with identities of gunmen, releads, adds info)
The two suspects who died in a shootout after allegedly killing a police detective and three civilians in Jersey City, New Jersey, specifically targeted the Jewish supermarket where a long-running gun battle occurred on 10 December 2019, city authorities said on 11 December. EPA-EFE/Josue Mora Rodas/File
Police secure and investigate the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, 10 December 2019. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE
(Updates with identities of gunmen, releads, adds info)
New York, Dec 11 (efe-epa).- New Jersey authorities on Wednesday identified the two gunmen who attacked a Jersey City kosher supermarket the day before as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, both of whom were shot dead by police responding to the scene and who are suspected of killing an Uber driver last week.
A homemade pipe bomb was found inside the white van the pair used to drive to the market and is being analyzed along with other evidence recovered at the scene of the attack, along with the vehicle, according to the FBI agent in charge of the case in New Jersey, Gregory W. Ehrie.
State Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, whose office is heading the investigation into the shooting, which ended with six people dead, identified the civilians who lost their lives as Moshe Deutsch, a 24-year-old employee of the market, Mindel Ferencz, 32, the wife of the store's owner, and Miguel Douglas, 49, a customer.
Another victim, who was wounded, managed to escape the scene and will not be identified, Grewal said, adding that the motive and/or ideology behind the attack are still unknown, although federal and local authorities are working to clarify matters and to investigate the relationship of the shooters with the Uber driver who was killed in Hudson County.
Local media have reported that Anderson was a former follower of the Israeli black Jews movement, a theology dating from the 19th century, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal defense group that monitors such movements.
The two suspects allegedly killed a police detective in a nearby cemetery, then fled to the kosher grocery store, where they opened fire killing three civilians in Jersey City, New Jersey, specifically targeting the Jewish supermarket where a long-running gun battle occurred, city authorities said Wednesday.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and public safety director James Shea made statements to reporters at a morning press conference across the street from the kosher grocery store.
"After reviewing the (closed-circuit TV) cameras on the Jersey City side, we do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli across the street here. We could see the van moving through Jersey City streets slowly. The perpetrator stopped in front of there, calmly opened the door with two long rifles - him and the other perpetrator - and began firing from the street into the facility," Fulop said.
He added that two police officers were walking one block away when they heard gunshots and responded to Tuesday's incident immediately.
"From what we can tell on the CC TV cameras, had they not responded and had they not been there in that location, more than likely more people would have died," Fulop said. "The reason why those perpetrators seemed to be inside that deli and not able to move potentially to the school or to inflict more harm was because the police responded immediately and returned fire."
Shea also said the cameras showed the incident began with the perpetrators opening fire at people inside the deli, adding that the two police posted a block away responded to the sound of gunfire, placed themselves in the line of fire and were wounded as a result.
"And within seconds, more Jersey Police officers responded to their calls, pulled them out of the line of fire and continued to engage the two people carrying guns inside the store," he said.
"Without that response ... with the amount of ammunition (the perpetrators) had, we have to assume they would have continued attacking human beings if we hadn't been there," Shea added.
Neither Fulop nor Shea would comment on the investigation, saying that was the purview of the New Jersey state Attorney General's Office and the local prosecutor.
Jersey City Police Commissioner Michael Kelly said at a Tuesday evening press conference that the suspects first killed Joseph Seals, a Jersey City police detective and married father of five who belonged to a unit responsible for removing illegal guns from the streets. They then fled the scene in a van and holed themselves up inside the kosher supermarket.
Seals was killed at a cemetery while approaching the suspects as part of a murder investigation, authorities said.
Two of the civilian victims have been identified as Moshe Deutsch, 24, and Mindel Ferencz, 33, both of whom were Orthodox Jews, local media reported, citing Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn.
Fulop told reporters that the state AG's office would provide further details from its investigation soon.
The sound of gunshots was heard for more than an hour from the kosher supermarket, located in the mainly Jewish Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City.
The ferocious battle prompted authorities to clear nearby streets and shut down public schools in the city, located just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
During the press conference, Shea emphasized that he at no time did he use the words "anti-semitic" to describe the attack, adding that "the motives are still part of the investigation."
Fulop, who is Jewish, said for his part Wednesday on Twitter that people have "speculated that the actors were of the Muslim faith, but at this point there is zero indication to that being accurate."
Jersey City "and I don't want anyone jumping to conclusions that aren't accurate. I want to be sure the Muslim community knows we are thankful they are here," the mayor added.