JERSEY CITY, NJ - Officials are continuing to put together the deadly trail left by David Anderson and Francine Graham, both killed during their bloody rampage Tuesday that left Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, Leah Minda Ferencz and Moshe Deutsch, the owners of the Jersey City Kosher market where much of the shooting took place, and their employee, Miguel Jason Rodriguez, dead.
The two are also the chief suspects in the murder of livery cab driver Michael Rumberger in Bayonne on Dec. 7. Police say Rumberger had been hired to drive the two from Hudson Mall to a location in Bayonne where, according to surveillance footage reviewed by police, the two attacked him before killing him and dumping his body in the trunk of a car.
While some reports suggest Seals was meeting with a confidential informant at the time of the attack against him the circumstances leading to him coming into contact with Anderson and Graham still remain unclear.
“He was the smartest street cop I know,” said one Jersey City cop who had become close with Seals at the police academy.
Several police authorities have speculated that the attack on Seals may have prompted the suspects to launch their plans to murder Jewish people sooner than originally planned, and may have helped alert authorities to the threat.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop – and other police authorities – believe the eventual target was the yeshiva across the street from the Jewish supermarket that more than 50 young children attend. Some have speculated this attack had the potential to become as devastating as the slaughter that took place in Pittsburg two years ago, others looked to the impending seventh anniversary of the attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 victims dead, including 20 children that were just five or six years old.
Weapons found both in the supermarket and the U-Haul van the attackers drove to the scene of the attack suggest the suspects had a larger target in mind. Two of the weapons were purchased in Ohio by Graham.
Phone records, as well as a handwritten note in the pocket of Anderson, also led to the arrest of a Keyport pawnshop owner, who allegedly still had a cache of weapons, despite having a criminal conviction prohibiting from him from possessing them. One of these weapons was an AK15 similar to the weapon used in the attack.
That suspect, Ahmed A-Hady, 35, has been charged with being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. The weapon in question was found, along with other weapons and over 400 rounds of ammunition, including a large number of hollow point bullets, during a lawful search of A-Hady's shop and residence on Saturday.
Although some media outlets have tied the two suspects to a radical black Israeli sect, officials said this was not yet confirmed and that the suspects are believed to have acted alone in the attacks.
At a press conference held at the Hudson County courthouse, officials said a review of the video shows that the supermarket was intentionally attacked.
While details about the incident are still being pieced together, officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have called the shooting in Jersey City an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime.
After reviewing video footage, officials said on Thursday that they clearly believe that the attack was deliberate and that the suspects clearly targeted the store because it was Jewish.
In a rare moment of candor, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that if not for the actions the Jersey City police officers this could have been a much larger situation. Grewal, however, declined to comment on what the larger target may have been but did announce that the cache of weapons and the pipe bomb were clearly intended for some use.
The eventual plans of the attackers were thwarted, many have said, by two Jersey City Police patrol officers who showed up quickly after the shooting started.
The acknowledgement of it has a hate crime is a vindication of sorts for Fulop, the son of Jewish Holocaust survivors who owned a grocery store in Newark in which he also worked, who pushed for the declaration since the day of the shooting.
“I'm just glad we are all here at this point calling it was it is,” Fulop said in a tweet as well as public statement. “That's the only thing that is important because every day that we didn't label it as hate we do a disservice to Judaism and those fighting hatred as it dismisses the impact of identifying it. While the world is watching, it is important to point out hate quickly and aggressively.”
Five firearms were recovered including an AK15, a Luger, a Glock, and a shotgun, and the investigation has determined that all victims died as a result of being shot by the suspects.
Although the suspects shot and wounded another who escaped from the deli, all other gunfire was directed at police.
Grewal said his office concluded the individuals held a hatred of Jewish people, and cops, but as yet cannot confirm they belonged to or acted in conjunction with any organized group.
The FBI is still seeking information from the public on Jersey City terrorist attack.
With the investigation, now led by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, still ongoing, law enforcement officials continue to ask for the public’s support, establishing a website where anyone can submit photos, videos, or other information that may help in determining whether the suspects acted alone.
“We live in a technological era where people capture information without even realizing it,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie. “We have long said that members of the public – who say something when they see something – are a force multiplier in our efforts to deter and fight crime.”
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