At a Wednesday morning press conference, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said that the Tuesday firefight at a kosher market at 223 Martin Luther King Drive was a targeted attack.
Broken windows at the kosher market and bullet holes at Sacred Heart School across the street bore witness to Tuesday afternoon’s rampage that reverberated well into the night.
Fulop said this conclusion is based on law enforcement’s overnight review of CCTV footage, and if it hadn’t been for the two police officers who heard the shots, there would have been more civilian casualties.
Public Safety Director James Shea would not comment on the motive for the rampage and said it was under investigation in the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. Shea would not say if it was an act of terrorism or an anti-Semitic attack.
According to a report in the New York Times on Wednesday, officials said that the suspect involved in the firefight Tuesday that left six people dead had reportedly published anti-Semitic and anti-police posts online.
This was not confirmed by Shea.
Yesterday, Mayor Steven Fulop confirmed that one Jersey City police officer has been killed and three others wounded by two shooters who took over a kosher market at 223 Martin Luther King Drive on Tuesday afternoon.
The names of the officers have not been released, but WNYC-FM reported Police Chief Michael Kelly saying the deceased officer was Detective Joseph Seals, 15 -year veteran of the force, information later confirmed by the mayor. Seals is said to be a Bayonne resident.
Officials held a press conference shortly after police stormed the location after a three hour standoff where two shooters, according to early reports a man and a woman dressed in black, had been firing on police and passersby with long rifles. The mayor said the police discovered “multiple deceased” persons inside the store.
Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday indicated that the shooters may both have been men. Shea would not confirm the gender of the suspects.
NBC New York reported that five bodies were found in the store, including both shooters. The network said law enforcement sources identified the dead officer as a 39-year-old married father of five.
NBC quoted three senior law enforcement officials as saying the shoot-out began as a homicide investigation. An officer approached suspects in that investigation at Bay View Cemetery and was shot and killed. The suspects then fled into the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive, where the standoff started around 12:30 p.m.
The shooters remained in the store, keeping police at bay, firing in the direction of anyone they saw.
Mayor Fulop said one officer was wounded in the shoulder and is being treated at an area hospital. The two other officers suffered what he described as “shrapnel wounds.”
According to various media reports, police responded at about 12:30 p.m. to the active shooter situation in Jersey City. Local police were assisted by the FBI, ATF, State Police, NYPD, Bayonne police and others.
Martin Luther King Drive was closed, as was the NJ Turnpike and Hudson Bergen Light Rail service was suspended south of Liberty State Park. As of 4:15 p.m. city schools on lockdown were beginning to release students, the mayor said on Twitter.
NJ.com has reported that authorities found devices they described as “pipe bombs” in the U-Haul rental van, reportedly stolen, that was used by the two shooters.
Using closed-circuit surveillance camera footage, police determined that the man and woman parked the van on Martin Luther King Drive.
During the siege, Gov. Phil Murphy’s office reported the governor was “monitoring” the situation as it was developing.
“I have been briefed on the unfolding situation in Jersey City,” the governor said in a statement. “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 lock down.”
Speaking to the media after the standoff ended, Mayor Fulop described Det. Seals as “a police officer who loved Jersey City, and was one of those most responsible for getting guns off the street.”