Jersey City shooting: six dead as officials say suspects targeted Jewish grocery

  • New York-area police on alert to protect Jewish neighborhoods
  • Three civilians, one police officer and two suspects killed

Police in the New York metropolitan area were on high alert to protect Jewish neighborhoods on Wednesday after two suspects opened fire on a kosher market in Jersey City as part of an hours-long attack that left six people dead, authorities said.

The four-hour police shootout with two suspects armed with high-powered rifles erupted after midday on Tuesday in Jersey City, New Jersey’s second-largest municipality directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The six dead included three civilians, one police officer and both suspects, authorities said.

Tuesday’s attack began at a nearby cemetery, where 40-year-old Detective Joseph Seals was killed after approaching the suspects, who had been sitting in a U-Haul van linked to a homicide over the weekend.

Mayor Steven Fulop said CCTV showed the suspects driving slowly through the city’s streets before stopping outside the Jewish JC Kosher Supermarket, where they calmly got out of their van and immediately opened fire.

One suspect had published antisemitic content online, and investigators believe the attack was motivated by those sentiments, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, quoting a law enforcement official.

The suspects have been named as 50-year-old Francine Graham and 47-year-old David Anderson, who appeared to be linked to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which is considered to be a hate group.

New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, said the attackers are now prime suspects in the death of a man whose body had been found in a car trunk. He was identified as Michael Rumberger, 34, of Jersey City.

Responders work to clean up the scene of Tuesday’s shooting that left multiple people dead at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Responders work to clean up the scene of Tuesday’s shooting that left multiple people dead at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey. Photograph: Kevin Hagen/AP

In a tweet, Fulop said the attackers clearly “targeted” the kosher store. Fulop added: “I’m Jewish and proud to live in a community like Jersey City that has always welcomed everyone. It is the home of Ellis Island and has always been the golden door to America. Hate and antisemitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city”.

I’m Jewish and proud to live in a community like #JerseyCity that has always welcomed everyone. It is the home of #EllisIsland and has always been the golden door to America. Hate and anti-semitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city,

— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) December 11, 2019

New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, tweeted that while there was no known specific threat to the city, he had placed city police on high alert, in particular to protect Jewish residents.

“Tonight NYPD assets are being deployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Tomorrow we will announce additional measures,” he said. “This tragically confirms that a growing pattern of violent antisemitism has now turned into a crisis for our nation. And now this threat has reached the doorstep of New York City.”

A police bomb squad was also investigating a possible explosive found in the stolen U-Haul vehicle the suspects drove.

This is Det. Joseph Seals, the hero cop who gave his life keeping Jersey City safe. He leaves behind a wife and 5 children. Let’s remember to keep his family and fellow officers in our thoughts and prayers tonight. pic.twitter.com/ZdU3EfN6nR

— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) December 11, 2019

Seals was hailed as a “hero cop” and credited by his colleagues as having led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years. The identities of the other victims have not been released.

Donald Trump said on Twitter: “Just received a briefing on the horrific shootout that took place in Jersey City. Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the victims & their families during this very difficult & tragic time.”

Last year, a 47-year-old Pennsylvania man, Robert Bowers, was arrested and accused of bursting into a Pittsburgh synagogue with a semi-automatic rifle and shooting 11 people to death. The October 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue was the deadliest attack ever on Jewish Americans in the United States. Bowers now faces the death penalty on multiple murder charges.

Last week a Saudi air force lieutenant shot dead three people at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida, after making social media posts about US support for Israel, in what the FBI said was a presumed “act of terrorism”.

In January 2015 an Islamic State sympathizer took hostages and killed four shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris, France.

Guardian staff and agencies

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