Gunmen targeted Jewish community in Jersey City, officials say12 min read

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Six people were killed yesterday in Jersey City after a ‘targeted’ shooting rampage ended with two gunmen barricading themselves inside a Jewish store before both were shot dead. 

Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, who was married to the JC Kosher Supermarket’s owner and Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, 24, from Brooklyn, have been named as victims by the The Jewish Chronicle and Chabad. Both were Orthodox Jews.  

The spree began when Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was shot dead by the two gunmen at a Protestant Christian cemetery on Tuesday shortly before 12.30pm. 

They sped a short distance to the kosher store where they went on to kill the three other victims before police stormed the shop at around 3pm, crashing through its glass front in an armored vehicle and killing the pair.

Mystery surrounds motivation for the rampage. Police last night said it had no links to hate crime or terror, while the mayor said it was targeted and a city councilor alleged it was anti-Semitic.

‘We have no inkling of what the motive was yet,’ Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said, adding that the investigation may take months.

Hours later, however, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said on Twitter that ‘we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked.’ He did not offer further explanation of which ‘location’ he was referring to — the cemetery or the store — or give any indication that the attack was related to anti-Semitism. 

New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, chair of the council’s Jewish Caucus, chimed in with a tweet soon after claiming that ‘evidence indicates that this attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.’

The NYPD said Tuesday night it was deploying extra units to synagogues and other Jewish buildings in New York, although not in response to any specific threat. Such deployments are routine after attacks around the world. 

Adding further confusion to the case, the deceased suspects are reportedly linked to the death of a livery cab driver who was found stuffed in the trunk of his Lincoln Town Car with head trauma on Saturday in Bayonne, New Jersey. The driver was not Jewish, nor was the police detective who was killed immediately prior to the assault on the kosher market. 

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Seals and his wife are seen above. He was credited as the most effective Jersey City officer in recovering illegal guns

Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, 24, has been named as one of the victims

The spree began when Detective Joseph Seals, 39, (left, with his wife) was shot dead by the two gunmen at a Protestant Christian cemetery on Tuesday shortly before 12.30pm. They sped on to the kosher store where Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, 24, (right) are said to have been killed 

Police secure and investigate the scene of a multiple shooting in Jersey City on Tuesday. Six people were killed, including the two shooters and a police officer, earlier on the same day when two men shot a police officer in an area cemetery and then had a shootout with police from inside a kosher supermarket

Police secure and investigate the scene of a multiple shooting in Jersey City on Tuesday. Six people were killed, including the two shooters and a police officer, earlier on the same day when two men shot a police officer in an area cemetery and then had a shootout with police from inside a kosher supermarket

After killing a police detective a mile away, the suspects drove straight to this kosher market, which is attached to a Jewish synagogue and is Jersey City's only strictly kosher store. A two-hour standoff ensued and three civilians died

After killing a police detective a mile away, the suspects drove straight to this kosher market, which is attached to a Jewish synagogue and is Jersey City’s only strictly kosher store. A two-hour standoff ensued and three civilians died  

A map shows the location where the detective was killed in the cemetery, and the subsequent standoff at the market

A map shows the location where the detective was killed in the cemetery, and the subsequent standoff at the market

Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was killed in the shooting on Tuesday. He was a married father of five

Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was killed in the shooting on Tuesday. He was a married father of five

Attack began with shooting of cop investigating livery cab murder  

The chaos began shortly before 12.30pm, when Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was shot dead by the two suspects at the Bay View Cemetery, which is a Protestant Christian burial ground.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the suspects were both men, or a man and a woman.

Timeline of Jersey City shootout 

Prior to 12.30pm: Detective Seals is shot dead at Bay View Cemetery after approaching a suspect vehicle in a homicide investigation.

The two suspects flee the cemetery in a stolen U-Haul and are immediately pursued by police.

12.30pm: About mile away, the suspects ditch the stolen U-Haul and run inside the JC Kosher Supermarket, taking hostages.

12.30pm to around 3pm: Suspects fired repeatedly at cops from inside the store, as police set up a perimeter.

Around 3pm: Cops stormed the market in an armored vehicle, crashing through the plate glass window. Cops killed the suspects, and three civilians were found dead at the suspects’ hands. 

4.15pm: Children were finally released from nearby schools after lockdowns lifted.

Seals, a married father of five and member of the CeaseFire Unit dedicated to de-escalating gun violence, encountered the suspects while on an investigation. 

The two suspects are believed to be linked to the Saturday death of Michael Rumberger, 34. There have been multiple reports that Seals was investigating Rumberger’s death when he was killed, however police have not officially confirmed this.

Sources say that Seals spotted a stolen U-Haul van that police suspected was linked to Rumberger’s murder, and approached the vehicle near the cemetery, WNBC-TV reported. 

As Seals approached, a suspect got out of the van to shoot the officer before speeding off. Police immediately pursued.

The suspects apparently drove in the stolen U-Haul directly to the JC Kosher Supermarket, about a mile away.

Shots were reported in the area at around 12.30pm, as the two suspects clad in all-black stormed the store.

Suspects storm kosher market, kill civilians and engage police in standoff

Surveillance video shows the two suspects shoot a Hasidic Jewish man on the street and then run into the store, where they began firing at the victims inside, according to WNYC.

The suspects, donning long black coats, wielding high-powered rifles and with a large supply of ammo. Officials are investigating a possible makeshift pipe-bomb device inside the truck, but it may not have been functional, officials said. 

A hours-long standoff ensued, with the suspects barricaded inside the store and firing at any officers who approached. 

Two cops, Officers Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez, were struck by gunfire and injured in the shootout, but both have been released from the hospital in good condition.  

The fierce shootout terrified residents as gunfire rang out for hours. By the end, three innocent civilians were dead, and police stormed the market and killed the two suspects.

The day of chaos across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan produced numerous conflicting reports about the shooters and the sequence of events, and many details have yet to be resolved.

Detectives examine the crime scene in Jersey City last night after the raging shootout ended with six people dead. The Mayor has said the attack was 'targeted' and a city councilman claims that it was 'motivated by anti-Semitism'

Detectives examine the crime scene in Jersey City last night after the raging shootout ended with six people dead. The Mayor has said the attack was ‘targeted’ and a city councilman claims that it was ‘motivated by anti-Semitism’

A local resident watches on from behind the police cordon

A heavily armed officer at the scene last night

In a raging gun battle six people – a Jersey City police officer, three civilians and two suspects – were killed in the Tuesday afternoon standoff and shootout across the Hudson River from Manhattan (pictured: a local resident surveys the scene, left, and a heavily armed officer, right, secures the area)

Police secure and investigate the scene of a shooting in Jersey City after the standoff ended on Tuesday night

Police secure and investigate the scene of a shooting in Jersey City after the standoff ended on Tuesday night

Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies are seen securing the scene after the shootout on Tuesday

Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies are seen securing the scene after the shootout on Tuesday

Officials remember fallen officer as dedicated member of CeaseFire Unit 

Seals was reportedly following up on a homicide investigation when he approached the two suspects in the cemetery.

He was a member of the CeaseFire unit, which often tries to intervene in gang conflicts to prevent retaliatory killings after drug murders. 

Officials say that Seals was responsible for getting dozens of illegal firearms off the streets.

However, Chief Kelly declined to specify exactly what kind of investigation Seals was pursuing at the time he confronted the two suspects.

Kelly said that Seals had joined the Jersey City police department in 2006, and praised him as dedicated detective who was well-liked on the force.

‘Joe was somebody who was involved in city,’ said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop at a press conference. ‘Officers in other precincts knew who he was because he was a good cop.’ 

After shooting Seals, the two suspects fled the scene in what police describe as a stolen U-Haul truck. 

Chief Kelly said that authorities are investigating a possible ‘incendiary device’ found in the stolen truck, but earlier reports that the vehicle was filled with pipe bombs could not be immediately confirmed by DailyMail.com.

Police officers arrive at the scene of an active shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 10, 2019

Police officers arrive at the scene of an active shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 10, 2019

Video showed dozens of SWAT officers closing in on the bodega where the shots originated

Video showed dozens of SWAT officers closing in on the bodega where the shots originated

Medics are seen loading an injured woman into an ambulance on Martin Luther King Drive

Medics are seen loading an injured woman into an ambulance on Martin Luther King Drive

Residents’ terror as hundreds of rounds fly during hours-long shootout 

The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty.

The shooting spread fear through the neighborhood, and the nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown as a precaution.

Witness Brian Clark told CBS2: ‘I got caught in a one way street with a bunch of cars and I was wondering why nobody was moving. And all of a sudden I heard it. All the shots started. Shots started ringing out. 

‘When I heard it, I see people running. I got out of the car and I see cops ducked down, and cops getting out of the way. 

‘And I’m wondering why, what the hell? So I get out of my car and I see it, and I heard it – pow pow pow pow pow – then I realized I was in a shootout. I never heard that many shots in my life. It was like I was in a war zone.’  

Andy Patel, works at a liquor store about three blocks away from the site of the shooting, told the Associated Press there had been consistent gunfire for at least an hour.  

‘I can hear the gunshots. It’s like firecrackers going off,’ Patel said. ‘They were shooting like crazy about an hour ago. Then it stopped for like 20 or 30 minutes. The cops were clearing everyone off the streets.’ 

The standoff sparked a massive multi-agency response, and the scene was flooded with heavily armed NYPD emergency services unit officers, FBI agents,Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, and counter-terrorism task force officers.  

Police blocked off the area while dozens of bystanders stood around the perimeter and filmed the action on their cellphones. 

Emergency responders move heavy equipment near the scene of a shooting in Jersey City on Tuesday

Emergency responders move heavy equipment near the scene of a shooting in Jersey City on Tuesday

An armored NYPD vehicle was used in the standoff. This vehicle or another like it crashed through the storefront

An armored NYPD vehicle was used in the standoff. This vehicle or another like it crashed through the storefront

NYPD ESU officers are seen during the standoff with an armored transport that is used to approach armed suspects

NYPD ESU officers are seen during the standoff with an armored transport that is used to approach armed suspects

Kosher market is at center of small but growing Orthodox Jewish community 

The kosher grocery is a central fixture in a growing community of Orthodox Jews who have been moving to Jersey City in recent years. Authorities were unable to immediately say why the gunmen went there.

Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, who shops at the kosher store and attends a synagogue next door, said he spoke with the store owner, Moishe Ferencz.

‘He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,’ Shapiro said. ‘His wife was inside the store. He said, `I hope my wife is safe.´’

The shootout went on for at least two hours, until police were able to take out the two suspects. The son of former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik was among the cops who helped take down the shooters, a source told the New York Post. 

Kerik’s son Joseph Kerik, a cop in Newark and member of a federal task force, was among the officers on board an armored truck that ended the standoff by smashing through the market’s plate glass window and engaging the suspects, shooting them dead.

Along with the two dead suspects, police found three dead civilians inside the store. Chief Kelly said that preliminary information indicated that they were killed by the suspects, and not by friendly fire from the officers trying to save them. 

The Sacred Heart School, located across the street from where the shooting took place, was put on lockdown shortly after noon. 

The terrified students were allowed to leave when the lockdown ended at 4.15pm, hours after school was supposed to let out. 

The Sacred Heart School, located across the street from where the shooting took place, was put on lockdown shortly after noon

Snapchat video from inside the school showed students sitting in the hallway and cowering under desks

The Sacred Heart School, located across the street from where the shooting took place, was put on lockdown shortly after noon. Snapchat video from inside the school showed students sitting in the hallway and cowering under desks

Kids were finally released from school hours late after enduring a lockdown during the standoff

Kids were finally released from school hours late after enduring a lockdown during the standoff 

Children are seen heading home after sunset when the all-clear was finally given after the shootout

Children are seen heading home after sunset when the all-clear was finally given after the shootout

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted that he had been briefed on the unfolding situation. 

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department, especially with the officers shot during this standoff, and with the residents and schoolchildren currently under lockdown,’ Murphy wrote.  

Snipers were later seen on the roof of the building. 

Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas confirmed that both Lincoln and Snyder high schools are on lockdown, as well as Schools 12, 14, 29, and 41. 

President Donald Trump tweeted: ‘Just received a briefing on the horrific shootout that took place in Jersey City, NJ. Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the victims & their families during this very difficult & tragic time. 

‘We will continue to monitor the situation as we assist local & state officials on the ground.’