Jersey City shooting was 'an act of terror' says Bill de Blasio

On Tuesday, two gunmen drove into the small ultra-Orthodox community and opened fire at a kosher grocery store, killing Leah Minda Ferencz and Moshe Deutsch.

A picture of the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two men around a kosher market in Jersey City, NJ, Dec. 11, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/LLOYD MITCHELL)
A picture of the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two men around a kosher market in Jersey City, NJ, Dec. 11, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/LLOYD MITCHELL)
The shooting attack that killed four people on Tuesday in Jersey City is being viewed as an antisemitic hate crime.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday that the attack was both a “premeditated violent antisemitic hate crime” and an “act of terror.”
On Tuesday, two gunmen drove into the small ultra-Orthodox community and opened fire at a kosher grocery store, killing Leah Minda Ferencz, who owned the store with her husband, and Moshe Deutsch, 24.
A third victim was identified as veteran police officer Joe Seals, a father of five.
The two shooters also died in the attack. A final victim has still not been named.
On Wednesday, more information about the incident was brought to light.
Seals approached the suspects, who were inside a U-Haul van at a cemetery near the grocery that ultimately became the site of the attack. The van had been linked to a homicide over the weekend, according to a law enforcement official, but no further details were revealed.
Surveillance footage showed the suspects shooting Seals and then driving away toward the store, where they parked and entered, according to police.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop added that the two suspects “calmly opened the door with two long rifles...and began firing from the street into the facility,” CNN reported.
The scene remained chaotic for several hours as heavily-armed officers arrived and a gun battle ensued between suspects and police. Schools in the area were put on lockdown until the incident ended, and had a delayed start on Wednesday.
James Shea, Jersey City department of public safety director, said the shooters passed by other potential targets before the attack.
It was also revealed Wednesday that one of the suspects, David Anderson, may have posted antisemitic and anti-police content online, though investigators are still checking to see if he wrote the content himself.
One law enforcement source told Reuters on Wednesday, however, the attack does not appear to be an act of organized terrorism in the eyes of US federal investigators. The source said investigators believe mental illness and drug use may have been the primary factors in the attack, and that the investigators view the possible antisemitic message posted online as a secondary factor.
Anderson was at one time a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, who believe that they are descendants of the ancient Israelites and adhere to both Judaic and Christian beliefs. In the U-Haul used in the attack a note with religious writings was found.
The other shooter was identified as Francine Graham, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the case, NBC New York reported.
A neighbor of Graham told NBC that Graham turned into a “dark person” when she connected with Anderson.
De Blasio said the shooting not only causes pain, but is also a reminder that “there’s a crisis of antisemitism gripping the nation.”
He said, “now we have seen this extraordinarily extreme form of violence reach the doorstep of New York City and we have to take that as a warning sign. We have to understand that people are now living in constant fear. We’ve entered a new reality.”

There has been a 22% increase in antisemitic hate crimes, according to New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
The commissioner said there is “absolutely a concern” of copycat attacks after this event. As such, de Blasio said there will be immediate steps that will be announced in the coming days, and that more measures will be developed in the long term.
The NYPD’s hate crimes unit monitors the Internet as many hate groups and hate-crime perpetrators post manifestos and hateful content to social media and websites such as 8Chan, as seen in the Poway, Tree of Life and El Paso shootings.
The mayor pointed to the Holocaust, saying that if the German people had stood up against the Nazi Party’s hate in the 1930s, six million Jews and millions of others would have still been alive. “The words of hate and the small acts of hate turn into a much greater danger that will threaten us all and it has to end here and now,” said de Blasio.
“Don’t hesitate” to send in any possibly relevant information, said de Blasio to New York citizens, stressing that the NYPD can’t do all the work. “We’re all a part of this.”
US President Donald Trump responded on Twitter to the attack, saying that “[I] just received a briefing on the horrific shootout that took place in Jersey City, NJ. Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the victims & their families during this very difficult & tragic time. We will continue to monitor the situation as we assist local & state officials on the ground.”
The event came one day before Trump signed an executive order that calls on government departments enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
Reuters contributed to this report.


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