Candles flicker in memory of four people killed in the Dec. 10, 2019, Jersey City shootout. (City of Jersey City/Twitter)

Jersey City Reels from Attack as Mayor Says a Yeshiva May Have Been Shooters’ Target

The mayor of Jersey City said he feared the next stop of two shooters who attacked a kosher market Tuesday would have been a school next door, had the pair not been killed by law enforcement.

The New Jersey attorney general said that after noon on Tuesday, David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, encountered and killed Detective Joseph Seals, 39, in the Bay View Cemetery in Jersey City. Anderson then drove a U-Haul to the JC Kosher Supermarket and parked across the street. The pair went into the store, with Anderson wielding a rifle and shooting customers.

Mindy Ferencz, 31, Douglas “Miguel” Rodriguez, 49, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, were killed in the attack. A fourth customer was wounded yet escaped the store.

Ferencz co-owned the store; Rodriguez, an immigrant from Ecuador, was an employee. Deutsch had stopped in the store to buy a sandwich. Ferencz’s husband, Moishe, had left the store not long before the attack in order to attend a service at a nearby synagogue. Rodriguez’s niece wrote today on the family’s GoFundMe page that members of the Jewish community informed the family that “Miguel died after heroically putting the lives of others before his.”

Police were on scene within minutes and were shot at; two police officers were wounded and are recovering.

Police received a 911 call from a person who found Seals’ body at the cemetery 17 minutes after Anderson and Graham arrived at the market. Five minutes later, a police armored vehicle arrived at the market and officers engaged the suspects. The standoff would continue for nearly three hours until the shooters were confirmed dead. A pipe bomb was found at the scene and was being analyzed by the FBI.

Anderson and Graham were named as the primary suspects in the beating death of Michael Rumberger, 34, an Uber driver whose body was found in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car on Saturday in Bayonne, N.J.

Anderson, who previously spent time behind bars on drug charges, left behind a social media trail riddled with anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement views. Authorities said he identified with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement; 144 Black Hebrew Israelite organizations are listed as black separatist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Anti-Defamation League says “the extremist and anti-Semitic sects of Black Hebrew Israelites are unrelated to the thousands of black Jews and other Jews of color in the US, who are genuine members of the Jewish faith,” and that some members have previously been involved in violent acts. One sect active in New York and New Jersey refers to Jews as “the bastards that funded the slave trade.”

“There has been considerable reporting that these two suspects are linked to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal told reporters Thursday. “We have evidence that both suspects expressed interest in this group. But we have not definitively established any formal links to that organization or to any other group. Based on the available evidence, we believe the shooters were acting on their own.” Grewal said contrary to some media reports no manifesto had been discovered.

The FBI has established a web page for people to upload videos or images they may have related to the attack.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop told CNN today that “people need to be aware that anti-Semitism and hate and racism exists in every community and we need to be aggressive in calling it out.”

“Even in all this darkness there’s a little bit of light in that there was a yeshiva directly next door with 50 children in it, three feet away,” Fulop said. “And, you know, I think one can assume that that was probably the intended target, so this could have been much, much worse.”

While authorities said they were investigating the motive, Fulop said in his mind there’s “no question” that the shooters were targeting Jews.

“I mean, they drove over a mile. There were a lot of targets they bypassed on the way. There were targets right near the kosher market that they bypassed,” he said. “They had a lot of ammunition and they were in a standoff with police. A huge arsenal. So they had intentions of doing more than murdering three people.”

“And that was not a secret location. That is a known location, really, where the Jewish community congregated. So it was no question, a hate crime; no question, it’s rooted in anti-Semitism. I think more and more information will prove out that point. And I’m happy we’re calling it for what it is.”

The ADL said Thursday that “this attack on the Jewish community is nothing short of domestic terrorism.”

“Our community has been terrorized once again by violent anti-Semitism. From Pittsburgh to Poway, and now to Jersey City, the disease that is anti-Semitism has clearly spread to epidemic proportions,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “But we will not be defeated, we will not stand down, we will not be intimidated. We will continue to speak up and out every time anti-Semitism and bigotry rear their ugly heads. We expect the same from our nation’s leaders. That is the least that can be done to honor the memories of the victims: Mindel Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez and Detective Joseph Seals.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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