Tuesday’s four-hour attack by two Black Hebrew Israelites on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey is now being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism, it was announced Thursday.
The FBI is taking the lead in the investigation, US attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito told reporters.
Both perpetrators, David N. Anderson, 47 and Francine Graham, 50, were killed in the shootout with police. Authorities recovered five guns linked to the pair – four inside the supermarket and one inside their van – in addition to a live pipe bomb. Anderson used an AR-15-style weapon; Graham was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun as they entered the store. Police recovered a 9mm Glock and a 9mm semi-automatic firearm in the store as well. A .22-caliber gun equipped with a homemade silencer was found in the van.
They first shot and killed Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the force, in the nearby Bay View Cemetery before driving leisurely to the supermarket, where they murdered supermarket co-owner Mindy Ferencz, 31, store owner Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, and rabbinical student and customer Moshe Deutsch. A fourth person, who is remaining nameless, was in the supermarket at the time but managed to escape after the attackers entered.
“The evidence points toward acts of hate,” New Jersey state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal told a news conference. “We are investigating this matter as potential acts of domestic terror, fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”
The attack, which saw at least 100 rounds of ammunition fired, ended when police crashed an armored vehicle through the front wall of the supermarket.
Authorities told reporters Thursday they are continuing to examine social media posts and other evidence to learn more about the motives of the attackers, who seem to have had no official link to the Black Hebrew Israelite group.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop was blunt in his assessment of the attack as a hate crime and far more willing to be open with the public about the intent of the attackers.
“I think as more info comes out it will be more and more clear not only that this was a hate crime but that the perpetrators had hoped to kill many more people than 4,” Fulop wrote on Twitter.