Leah Minda Ferencz, who owned the Kosher supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City, as well as a customer, Moshe Deutsch, 24, and another Jewish customer, age 48, were gunned down on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier, Detective Joseph Seals, 39, married and father of five, was shot and later declared dead. The killers, a man and a woman, were finally shot dead in a gun exchange police said involved at least 100 bullets.
David Rosenberg, executive director of the North Jersey Jewish Business Alliance and the Hudson County Jewish Business Alliance, told NJ.com that about 70 Jewish families live in the neighborhood around the attacked kosher supermarket, which he said is “basically the only place to get real kosher food in Jersey City.”
According to Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly, the attack on the kosher market began Tuesday afternoon at a cemetery on Garfield Avenue, Jersey City, when Detective Seals spotted a U-Haul truck which may have been linked to the murder of a livery driver in Bayonne, NJ, last weekend. Seals approached the truck, at which point one of the suspects got out, shot the officer, and the truck took off.
The two suspects drove their U-Haul truck to the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive, where, around 12:30 PM, they shot a Chassidic man on the sidewalk and ran into the store, where they shot and killed the other two victims.
According to police, the two killers had long guns and a large supply of ammunition, as well as bomb-making materials in the truck. Heavily armed local and state officers arrived at the scene, hiding behind doorways and crawling on sidewalks, advancing on the shooters in the store. The streets were barricaded, leaving a vacant battleground where normally pedestrians and cars densely move about at that time of the day.
Chief Kelly later told the press: “Our officers were under fire for hours. Two more police officers were hit by gunfire. One sustained an injury to the shoulder, one sustained another injury to the body. Those officers have since been released from the hospital.”
THE ATTACK WAS AN ACT OF ANTI-SEMITISM
Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop early Wednesday morning tweeted: “Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked.” Meaning, the killers headed to the kosher store because they knew it was owned by Jews.
What followed was a string of tweets from astonished reporters, from every news outlet known to mankind, demanding that the mayor explain his assertion – which radically altered the initial notion that the shooters had merely hit the first shelter they found while fleeing police.
Laura E. Adkins tweeted: “Mr. Mayor, editor at JTA News here — what do you mean? That the location the gunmen fled to, the kosher supermarket, was chosen with anti-Semitic intent, contrary to press conference report? That there is an active anti-Semitic hate crime investigation? Something else?”
NY mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted in response: “The Mayor of Jersey City has asserted that today’s incident was a deliberate attack targeting the Jewish community. This tragically confirms that a growing pattern of violent anti-Semitism has now turned into a crisis for our nation. And now this threat has reached the doorstep of New York City.”
Mayor de Blasio also stated: “Although there is no credible or specific threat directed against New York City, I have directed the NYPD to assume a state of high alert. Tonight, NYPD assets are being redeployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Tomorrow, we will announce additional measures.”
The mayor concluded: “History teaches us how dangerous it is to ignore this kind of hateful pattern. We must stop anti-Semitism aggressively and decisively, and I call upon all New Yorkers to join in rooting out this threat.”
The incident is being investigated by the Hudson County prosecutor’s office, the FBI, the ATF and local police. So far it has not been established with certainty that the shooters indeed carried out an anti-Semitic plan, but the fact is that community leaders and politicians already understand that this is part of a new, growing trend.