July 3, 2020 | News | No Comments
JERSEY CITY, NJ — Six people were killed Tuesday — including two suspects, a Jersey City police detective and three civilians — in an hourslong shootout with the two heavily armed shooters in a densely populated area of New Jersey. Videos showed the horrifying scene, with brutal war-like gunfire booming in the background.
Update: Chilling Details Revealed After 6 Killed In Jersey City Shooting
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop confirmed the identity of fallen Jersey City police officer Detective Joseph Seals, 39, a married father of five. He was not killed in the shootout but where Tuesday’s dramatic incident first began, in Bayview Cemetery on Garfield Avenue, according to Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly.
Read more: Cop Killed In Jersey City Standoff: A Hero Before; A Hero Now
His killing appeared to be connected to the wild shooting standoff that unfolded moments later on MLK Drive.
“We believe he was killed while trying to interdict these bad guys at the other location,” Kelly said. “Detective Seals was working. I can just say that he came upon bad guys. I don’t know yet how he got there.”
The two shooting suspects have been identified as a man and a woman, David Anderson and Francine Graham, law enforcement sources told News4.
The incident started at Bayview Cemetery just after noon Tuesday and was possibly related to an ongoing homicide investigation, according to NBC New York.
Seals approached the suspects in that case and was shot and killed, Kelly said. NJ.com reported he was shot once in the back of the head, behind the ear. He died at the Jersey City Medical Center.
From the cemetery, the man and woman shooting suspects fled to the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket at 223 Martin Luther King Drive. They arrived at the grocery store in a stolen U-Haul van, wearing all black and carrying long guns. Homemade bombs were found in the stolen U-Haul, Kelly said.
“Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked,” Fulop said. “Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead. We have no indication there are any further threats.”
Outside the store, they reportedly shot a person, who survived, and then holed up inside, where they continued firing at officers for hours.
As soon as police arrived at the grocery store, they were immediately met with “high-powered rifle gun fire,” Kelly said. “At that time, we were learning that we had another officer down on Garfield Avenue. That was Detective Joseph Seals.”
The standoff started about 12:30 p.m., and it wasn’t until shortly after 2:30 p.m. that the two shooters had been taken down by police.
“We took gunfire for hours,” Kelly said. “Our officers were under gunfire for hours.”
Two other officers, Mariela Fernandez and Ray Sanchez, were hit by gunfire, he said. All are expected to recover.
“(Seals) gave his life,” Mayor Steven Fulop said. “Another officer was shot in the shoulder. And two officers are receiving medical treatment due to shrapnel.”
Meanwhile, for a two-hour span, bullets could be heard echoing across MLK Drive; all city schools were on lockdown, and police were telling people in the Greenville section of the city to get inside and off the streets.
The shooters fired at anyone they saw, according to NJ.com, including firing shots at the nearby Sacred Heart School, a private Catholic elementary school on Bayview Avenue.
Police eventually sent a robot inside the grocery store, where they found the bodies of the two shooters and three civilians. Police think the three civilians inside the store had been killed by the shooters, Kelly said.
Moshe Hersh Deutsch, 24, and Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, who owned the kosher grocery store with her husband, were identified as two of the civilian victims, according to The Record. A 48-year-old customer was identified by The Jewish Press as the third civilian victim.
When asked by a reporter, the mayor said this does not appear to be an incident of terrorism.
Detective Seals remembered as a heroic officer
“It’s been a really tough day for the city of Jersey City,” Fulop said in a press conference. “(Seals) has been with the department since 2006. He was a great officer, and he took pride in his job. He was a husband and father of five children. He was a good cop.”
Seals worked with the cease-fire unit and was a longtime veteran of the JCPD. He lived in North Arlington and often worked plainclothes police details, NJ.com reported.
“Even more than being a police officer that loved Jersey City, he was responsible for getting the most guns off the street,” Fulop said of Seals. “Officers in other precincts knew who he was because he was a good cop.”
Seals worked in the department’s cease-fire unit and was responsible for getting “dozens and dozens” of illegal guns off the street, Kelly said.
He is the same man who was hailed in this report as the police officer who saved a Jersey City woman from a possible sexual assault in 2008. He and another officer broke through a window to save a woman who was being sexually assaulted in an apartment on Christmas Eve.
“We cried with the family; it’s one of the hardest things you ever have to see in your entire life,” Fulop said. “Sometimes people don’t appreciate the tough work these police officers do every single day.”
This dramatic video shows police officers scrambling for cover as shots ring out on the streets of Jersey City (viewer discretion advised; some viewers may find the content disturbing):
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President Trump, governor issue statements
Tuesday’s shootout in Jersey City was so serious that President Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy were briefed.
“I have been briefed on the unfolding situation in Jersey City,” said Murphy said. “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.”
“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,” Trump tweeted late Tuesday afternoon.
Every school in the Jersey City public school district was placed on lockdown, and all public school students were safe, the mayor said.
“All students and staff are safe; however every school is on lockdown,” the Jersey City school district tweeted. Bayonne public schools are also on lockdown, the Bayonne Board of Education tweeted.