On Tuesday, a shootout between New Jersey police and drug suspects in Jersey City, New Jersey, that started at a cemetery wound up at a kosher supermarket, where a police officer and three Jews in the grocery were killed.
The New York Times reported, “Officials believe the shooting began when the detective approached one of the gunmen at a nearby cemetery in connection with a homicide investigation and was shot dead, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The gunmen then fled in a truck and eventually ended up at the kosher market, where they opened fire on police officers and civilians, officials said.”
The slain police officer, Detective Joseph Seals, had served with the police for 13 years; he had five children. The Times noted, “His most recent assignment was to a citywide Cease Fire unit, which concentrates on reducing shootings and making gun arrests.” Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly said, “He was our leading police officer in removing guns from the street. Dozens of dozens of handguns he is responsible for removing from the street.”
ABC7 reported, “Law enforcement sources say it was not just a drug deal involved as initially suspected, but Det. Seals may have been interested in the two suspects who ultimately shot and killed him because of a weekend homicide. Police in Bayonne found a Jersey City man, identified as Michael Rumberger, in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car on Saturday night. The crime had not been immediately solved.”
According to the Forward, a member of Hatzolah, a Jewish first responder team, said the Jews who were killed were under forty. Many religious Hasidic Jews who could not afford to live in Brooklyn had moved to the area near the supermarket, The Forward reported.
The shootout lasted roughly three hours with hundreds of bullets exchanged. The two suspects were killed in the shootout.
The grocery is located next to a synagogue and a yeshiva, where Jewish children study the Bible. Chesky Deutsch, a community activist, told the Times that roughly 100 children between the ages of seven and twelve had been trapped at the yeshiva.
Sacred Heart School, a Catholic elementary school, is across the street from the grocery; it was placed on lockdown as were 12 public schools in the vicinity.
Jersey City Councilman Jermaine Robinson, who was working in his office, told News 12 New Jersey that the shootout was “something that I never heard in my life. This was something different,” adding the gunfire “kept going and going and going without a pause.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy stated, “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. I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation. Today reminds us of their bravery and the sacrifices they, and their families, make for our communities.”
According to Department of Public Safety Director James Shea, there is “no indication of terrorism” in the shooting, The Daily Beast reported.
Jersey City Police Officer MURDERED today. Our hearts and prayers extend to all members of the Jersey City PD. We pray 🙏 for the slain officer and his family. He served as a true hero and patriot🇺🇸. May God welcome him home and forever look over his family➕ pic.twitter.com/bKYdbBX8QD
— SBA (@SBANYPD) December 10, 2019
Condolences to the families of those who were killed today in the Kosher grocery store in Jersey City. Rabbi Shlome Friedman 🕯
Mrs Chava Gold 🕯 and Mrs Leah Mindel Ferentz🕯. May their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and may they know no more sorrow.
— Hunter Pollack (@PollackHunter) December 11, 2019