Update: Jersey City’s mayor says gunmen targeted kosher market

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Update:

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The gunmen in a furious firefight that left six people dead in Jersey City clearly targeted a Jewish market, the mayor said Wednesday, fueling growing suspicions the bloodshed was an anti-Semitic attack.

Mayor Steven Fulop refused to call it an anti-Semitic attack but said surveillance video showed the gunmen driving slowly through the city’s streets and then stopping outside a kosher grocery store, where they calmly got out of their van and immediately opened fire.

Neither the state attorney general, who is running the investigation, nor any other law enforcement authority has confirmed the shooters targeted Jews. City Public Safety Director James Shea said Tuesday there was no indication it was terrorism. And police released no immediate information on the killers.

A police officer, three bystanders and the killers all died in the violence Tuesday afternoon in the city of 270,000 people across the Hudson River from New York City.

The shooting began near a cemetery, where Detective Joseph Seals, a 40-year-old member of a unit devoted to taking illegal guns off the street, was killed while trying to stop “bad guys,” Police Chief Michael Kelly said without elaborating.

The killers then drove a stolen rental van over a mile to the kosher market, where they used high-powered rifle fire in a drawn-out battle with police that filled the streets with the sound of heavy gunfire and turned the city into what looked like a war zone, with SWAT officers in full tactical gear swarming the neighborhood.

At the grocery store, police found five bodies — the killers and three people who apparently happened to be there at the time. Police said they were confident the bystanders were shot by the gunmen and not by police.

Fulop said a review of security camera footage has led to the conclusion that the gunmen targeted the market.

“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,” Fulop tweeted.

At a later news conference, Fulop said the surveillance video shows the van moving slowly and then stopping in front of the store.

“There were multiple other people on the street so there were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place, so it was clear that was their target and they intended to harm people inside,” he said.

But Fulop cautioned: “I didn’t use the word `anti-Semitic.’ Anything else is open for investigation.”

Jewish leaders and the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Semitic attacks, expressed concern about the deaths.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC that the attack was “clearly a hate crime,” while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pronounced it a “deliberate attack on the Jewish community.” They announced tighter police protection of synagogues and other Jewish establishments in New York as a precaution.

In the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, 11 people were killed in an October 2018 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Last April, a gunman opened fire at a synagogue north of San Diego, killing a woman and wounding a rabbi and two others.

The kosher grocery is a central fixture in a growing community of Orthodox Jews who have been moving to Jersey City in recent years and settling in what was a mostly black section of Jersey City.

Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, who shops at the store and attends a synagogue next door, said he spoke with the store owner, Moishe Ferencz.

“He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,” Schapiro said. “His wife was inside the store. He said, ‘I hope my wife is safe.’”

The names of the victims inside the store were not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.

Police also removed what they described as a possible “incendiary device” from the van.

Update:

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — A police officer and multiple other people were killed in a furious gunbattle Tuesday that filled the streets of Jersey City with the sound of heavy gunfire for about an hour, authorities said.

Authorities said they believe the shootout was not an act of terrorism, but the bloodshed was still under investigation.

Officials gave no immediate details on what set off the shooting and how it unfolded, and there was no word on how many suspects were involved or whether anyone had been taken into custody.

One officer was pronounced dead at a hospital, and multiple other people were found dead at a kosher supermarket, Mayor Steven Fulop said without specifying how many were killed. A second officer was struck in the shoulder by gunfire, and two others were hit by shrapnel, Fulop said.

The shooting spread fear through the neighborhood, and the nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown as a precaution.

The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty.

SWAT teams, state police and federal agents converged on the scene, and police blocked off the area, which in addition to the school and supermarket included a hair salon and other shops. Dozens of bystanders pressed against the police barrier to capture the action on their cellphones, some whooping when bursts of gunfire could be heard.

Video shot by residents recorded loud volleys of gunfire reverberating along one of the city’s main streets and showed a long line of law enforcement officers pointing guns as they advanced, yelling to bystanders, “Clear the street! Get out of the way!”

“It’s like firecrackers going off,” said Andy Patel, who works at a liquor store about three blocks away. “They were shooting like crazy. … The cops were clearing everyone off the streets.”

Update 12/10/2019 2:32 p.m.:

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Prosecutors say that one police officer has been killed and two more and a civilian wounded in a standoff in Jersey City.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Police officers were shot Tuesday in a standoff marked by heavy gunfire reverberating through a Jersey City neighborhood, authorities said.

The nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown, but all staff and students were safe, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Newark.

Sporadic, heavy gunfire rang out over the course of at least an hour along a major thoroughfare but has quieted down. SWAT teams, state police and federal agents responded to the scene, and police blocked off the area, which, in addition to the school, has some stores, a kosher supermarket and a hair stylist.

FBI spokeswoman Patty Hartman said that more than one officer has been shot but could not give any other information.

“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,” Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. “I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation.”

Loud volleys of gunfire could be heard at regular intervals but subsided around 2 p.m. in the city, which is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan and is New Jersey’s second-largest city after Newark. Dozens of bystanders pressed against the police barrier to film the action on cellphones, some whooping when gunfire bursts filled the air.

Andy Patel works at a liquor store about three blocks away from the site of the shooting site and said there had been consistent gunfire fire about an hour Tuesday afternoon.

“I can hear the gunshots. It’s like firecrackers going off. They were shooting like crazy about an hour ago. Then it stopped for like 20 or 30 minutes. The cops were clearing everyone off the streets,” said Patel.

Jersey City Police said they had no information to provide over the phone on the shooting.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was responding. The New York Police Department sent emergency services personnel, and the forces counterterrorism unit was monitoring the situation.

Update: 12/10/2019 1:31 p.m.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey’s governor says police officers have been shot in the Jersey City standoff. Sporadic, heavy gunfire has been reported.

SWAT teams and federal agents have responded to the scene Tuesday, and police have blocked off a major thoroughfare. Loud volleys of gunfire could be heard at regular intervals but subsided around 2 p.m.

Video shows a line of police officers armed with weapons pointed in several directions walking down the sidewalk. The area has a Catholic school, convenience stories, a kosher supermarket and a hair stylist.

Phones rang unanswered at several businesses. The Catholic parish, Sacred Heart, has closed, and no one answered at its associated school.


Original story:

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) – Gunfire has been reported in a Jersey City neighborhood. It was not yet clear if anyone was injured.

SWAT teams and federal agents have responded to the scene Tuesday, and police have blocked off a major thoroughfare. Loud volleys of gunfire could be heard at regular intervals but subsided around 2 p.m.

Video shows a line of police officers armed with weapons pointed in several directions walking down the sidewalk. The area has a Catholic school, a few convenience stories, a kosher supermarket and a hair stylist.

Phones rang unanswered at several businesses. The Catholic parish, Sacred Heart, has closed, and no one answered at its associated school.

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