More details are emerging following a shooting Wednesday in Jersey City, New Jersey, that left six people dead, including the two alleged shooters.
Officials are now saying that a Kosher grocery store where three of the four victims were shot was specifically targeted.
“There were multiple other people on the streets,” Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea told reporters Wednesday, according to NBC News. “There were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place. So it was, clearly, that was their target, and they intended to harm people inside there.”
The shooting started at a nearby cemetery, when Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals approached two suspects who were in a van that had been linked to a prior homicide.
Seals, an 18-year law enforcement veteran, was shot in the back of the head and later died, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The suspects, who were armed with long guns, then took off in the van before parking outside a kosher grocery store.
A law enforcement official told The New York Times the suspects walked into the store while firing their guns. A pipe bomb was later found in their car, that official said.
A lengthy standoff ensued, with the suspects firing at both law enforcement officers who responded and innocent victims in the store.
Rabbi Moshe Schapiro of the Chabad of Hoboken and Jersey City identified two of the victims as members of the Orthodox Jewish community — Leah Minda Ferencz, who owned the JC Kosher Supermarket with her husband, and her cousin Moshe Hirsch Deutsh, a rabbinical student who lived in Brooklyn, according to NorthJersey.com.
Miguel Jason Rodriguez, an Ecuadorian migrant who worked at the grocery store, was identified by his pastor as the final victim.
Officials are investigating the identity and motives of the suspects.
“Last night after extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location on MLK Dr,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted.
Last night after extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location on MLK Dr – the 2 JCPD officers that were on a foot post one block away immediately responded/engaged
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) December 11, 2019
The law enforcement official told The Times that the suspects’ names were David Anderson and Francine Graham. A “manifesto-style note” was found in the van, though it did not provide a clear motive for the attack, The Times reported, citing two officials.
Four law enforcement sources also confirmed the suspects’ names to WNBC-TV.
Both outlets reported Anderson has been linked by investigators to the Black Hebrew Israelites, a black supremacy organization.
There are multiple offshoots of the group, though more extreme members are taught that “a vengeful black Jesus will soon return to earth to kill or enslave all white people,” the outlet reported.
Even the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center says the Black Hebrew Israelites “advocate the superiority of the black race and that African Americans represent God’s true ‘chosen people.’ As God’s ‘true’ Jews, BHI adherents believe that Jews who self-identify with Israel are ‘scam artists’ and imposters.”
Three sources told WNBC that Anderson was a one-time follower of the group.
A neighbor of Graham’s, meanwhile, told the outlet that Graham met Anderson after sustaining an injury at work.
“[The neighbor] says Graham turned into a ‘dark person’ after they met,” WNBC reported.
“The neighbor also claims Graham was coerced into a militant religion he could not identify; chanting and reading of the New Testament, translated into ‘evil,’ could be heard from her home, he said.”
Unnamed officials also said they had found anti-police and anti-Jewish postings connected to Anderson’s social media page.
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