JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Authorities on Wednesday were investigating the motive behind the hourslong shooting rampage that killed six people and left this city across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan in mourning.
While local officials have called the shooting an anti-Semitic hate crime, state officials Wednesday cautioned the public against speculating on the motive as the investigation continues.
The dead included a police officer, three civilians and both suspects, who are also linked to a prior killing in Bayonne, New Jersey, police said. The bodies of the civilians were found inside a kosher supermarket Tuesday – the supermarket owner, a bodega employee and a shopper. Two other police officers were wounded.
The roar of gunfire drew a phalanx of police to the quaint, busy street that quickly devolved into a war zone. All the victims were struck by rounds thought to have been fired by the suspects, police said.
The focus of the killing was a kosher bodega in a section of the city that has become a gathering place for about 100 Orthodox Jewish families, authorities said.
Jersey City shooting rampage:Suspects targeted kosher supermarket
Here's what we know about the tragedy:
Who are the victims?
The suspects killed Officer Joseph Seals at a cemetery "at some point yesterday," said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, offering little information about the circumstances of his death.
Police identified the other victims as Mindy Ferencz, 32, Moshe Deutsch, 24, and Miguel Douglas, 49.
A fourth civilian was injured in the shooting but is recovering, Grewal said.
Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro said Ferencz was Deutsch's cousin, and that both were members of the local Orthodox community. Schapiro said Ferencz and her husband owned the bodega.
Williams Machazek, the pastor of Iglesia Nueva Vida in Newark, identified the third victim – whom he called Miguel Jason Rodriguez – as a congregant at his church who emigrated from Ecuador three years ago. Rodriguez has a wife and 11-year-old daughter and had been working at the bodega for about a year, Machazek said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said two of the victims were borough natives.
Jersey City suspects identified
Authorities said Wednesday that the shooters were David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50.
Grewal said Anderson and Graham were also the prime suspects in the killing of a 34-year-old Jersey City man who was found beaten to death in the trunk of a car in Bayonne on Saturday night.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said the suspects had resided in the city. He said the incident should be considered an act of hate.
“It should be viewed as a hate crime and called out aggressively . . . and quickly,” Fulop said at a press conference Wednesday. “There’s no question it was an attack on the Jewish community. There’s no other way to interpret it when you look at the facts. As a Holocaust survivor family, it’s important for me to recognize it for what it is.”
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What happened at the supermarket?
Details surrounding what happened at the supermaket were still developing, but officials provided a general timeline.
At 12:21 p.m., a white U-Haul parked across from the JC Kosher supermarket, about a mile from the cemetery, Grewal said. Within seconds, Anderson exited the driver side door with a rifle, walked toward the market and began shooting. Graham followed him into the store, where the suspects remained throughout the shootout.
The suspects encountered four civilians inside the store, and one was able to escape.
At 12:38 p.m., police got a 911 call from someone who discovered the body of Seals, Grewal said. At 12:43 p.m., police arrived near the supermarket and engaged the suspects. At 3:25 p.m., a police armored vehicle broke through the entryway of the supermarket. By 3:47 p.m., the incident had ended, and authorities discovered bodies inside the store.
Officials later found a viable pipe bomb inside the U-Haul truck.
Have police identified a motive?
Grewal said Wednesday that despite "significant speculation," authorities had not determined a motive. Law enforcement was in the process of gathering digital and video evidence and conducting witness interviews, he said.
However, multiple media outlets including The New York Times reported that one of the suspects had published anti-Semitic posts on social media.
On Twitter and in an interview with MSNBC, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the shooting a "hate crime."
President Donald Trump referenced the shooting at a Hanukkah reception at the White House Wednesday evening. "With one heart America weeps for the lives lost. With one voice we vow to crush the monstrous evil of antisemitism,” he said.
Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that targets anti-Semitism on college campuses by cutting off aid to schools that tolerate hate. Some critics, however, say the move is an effort to stifle free speech and criticism of Israel.
Fraudulent GoFundMe pages
At least one fake GoFundMe page cropped up Tuesday night claiming to solicit donations for the families of the victims, U.S. attorney Craig Carpenito said.
"A reprehensible group of people are online trying to profiteer off of the misfortune of others," Carpenito said. "I can’t find the words of how disgusting this conduct is."
Carpenito said that was not aware of any bonafide pages and asked that anyone who had donated to a GoFundMe page to reach out to the FBI.
Who was Officer Joseph Seals?
The lone police officer killed was 40-year-old Seals, a 13-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department who was promoted to detective two years ago.
Seals, a married father of five, joined the city police in 2006. He was promoted to detective in November 2017 and belonged to the department’s Cease Fire Unit. Seals was well known among police for his work taking guns off the street, Fulop said.
"He was a good cop," Fulop said of Seals. "I'm sure his children expected him to return home."
Bacon reported from McLean, Virginia. Contributing: Deena Yellin, Monsy Alvarado, Kristie Cattafi, Terrence T. McDonald and James M. O'Neill, NorthJersey.com; Grace Hauck, USA TODAY.