Crime Jersey City shooting: Alleged killers tied to fringe anti-Semitic group
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The investigation continues into the deadly shooting and standoff in Jersey City that left a police officer and three civilians dead, and part of the focus is now on a fringe group with anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-police tendencies that the now-deceased suspects were said to follow.
The alleged killers were identified as 47-year-old David Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham and were believed to be followers of the Black Hebrew Israelites.
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The findings stoked suspicions that the rampage was not random but a bias attack, even as state and federal authorities cautioned that the motive was still under investigation.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has not yet called the incident a hate crime, but he is planning to release more information at a press conference Thursday.
"The why and the ideology and the motivation - that's what we're investigating," New Jersey Attorney General Grewal said Wednesday, adding that authorities are trying to determine whether anyone else was involved.
The FBI on Wednesday searched the Harlem headquarters of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, which is the formal name of the Black Hebrew group, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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The officer killed was identified as Detective Joseph Seals, a husband and father of five who had been with the department since 2006, while the victims in the supermarket are 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, 49-year-old Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, and 31-year-old Mindy Ferencz.
Authorities said a device found in the back of the stolen U-Haul that the suspects drove to the scene, a pipe bomb. Also in the U-Haul were notes with religious writings, one of which included the quote, "I do this because my creator makes me do this and I hate who he hates," according to multiple law enforcement sources.
Authorities in New Jersey reportedly did not have the Black Hebrew Israelites on their radar as a violent group, considered more a nuisance at public events.
'We were beyond lucky to have him': Joseph Seals, cop killed in Jersey City shooting, was a 15-year veteran
Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the Jersey City police force and a father of five, was killed in Tuesday's gunfight that also left 5 others dead.(Pictured) Police officers arrive to the scene where active shooting is happening.
The bomb squad detonated the device, though it remains unclear what the suspects had planned to do with it.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Wednesday morning that the gunmen targeted the market, with surveillance video showing them driving slowly through the city's streets before stopping outside, calmly exiting their van and immediately opening fire.
"We could see the van moving through Jersey City streets slowly," he said. "The perpetrators stopped in front of (the market), calmly opened the door with two long rifles - him and the other perpetrator - and began firing from the street into the facility."
New Jersey authorities are preliminarily investigating the incident as a case of domestic terrorism.
It began at the Bay View Cemetery, where Seals was fatally shot and another officer wounded in the shoulder.
Officials say Anderson and Graham then drove the U-Haul about a mile to the grocery store, parking across the street and exiting the vehicle with guns drawn. They immediately began firing, shooting four people inside, one of whom managed to flee from the scene.
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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner pushed back on some early criticism of the measure, saying in an op-ed the action "does not define Jews as a nationality."Trump, joined by lawmakers and administration officials in addition to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, said the order "makes clear" that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act would "apply to institutions that traffic in anti-Semitic hate.
Officers in the area quickly arrived on scene, trapping the two suspects inside. The lengthy gun battle then commenced.
As the suspects fired upon them from inside the grocery store, police retreated and took up defensive positions as hundreds of officers, SWAT units, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI descended on the area.
Two other officers were wounded but were later released from the hospital, authorities said. They were identified as Mariela Fernandez and Ray Sanchez
Law enforcement sources said Detective Seals may have been interested in the two suspects who ultimately killed him because of a weekend homicide in Bayonne, where a Jersey City man identified as Michael Rumberger was found in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car on Saturday night.
That crime had not been immediately solved.
Investigators are continuing to try to understand the suspects' encounter with Seals that touched off the shootout. At this point, the leading theory is the detector had a prior source relationship with one of the suspects, which may explain why he felt comfortable meeting in the cemetery without backup and without calling it in to others.
Jersey City mayor points to video evidence suggesting shooter targeted school children .
Mayor Steve Fulop on Friday said that based on video evidence he believes the shooters meant to target the yeshiva attached to the building.Fulop said it was "easy to conclude" that the shooters' intentions were not just to shoot at those in the deli but to continue to the adjacent school, given that footage and the number of weapons the two shooters possessed.
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