WESTFIELD, NJ — Jewish leaders in Westfield and across the state are examining security measures and closely following the investigation in Tuesday’s deadly shootout at a kosher supermarket in the Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City.
Alice Lutwak, the interim executive director of Temple Emanu-El, a sizable Reform synagogue in Westfield, said a police car was to be stationed outside of the temple Wednesday afternoon and the local leadership was looking at increased security in addressing an ongoing concern. The New York Times reported Wednesday that investigators believed anti-Semitic and anti-police sentiments seen in one of the suspects’ social media posts motivated the attack.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Det. Joseph Seals and all the victims of this horrible tragedy,” Lutwak told TAPinto Westfield, referring to the Jersey City police officer killed in the shootout. Synagogue leadership at Temple Emanu-El had been scheduled to meet with representatives from the private security firm K Street Group to execute a contract for its services and have the firm’s security experts walk through the building, she said.
“K Street employs only retired police officers, and they will start at TEE full time on Jan. 2,” Lutwak said. “All KSG armed officers are in full compliance with the NJ State Police Security Registration Act.” The temple in Westfield serves about 1,100 families, in northern and central New Jersey, its website states.
As details about the attack in Jersey City emerged Wednesday, the Jewish community was paying close attention.
“We are following the incident from yesterday with great concern,” said Dov Ben-Shimon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. “We are deeply grateful for our local law enforcement, and we mourn the loss of Officer Seal.
“We welcome the investigation currently underway by the attorney general and other law enforcement branches and, together with our partners in the Jewish federation of northern New Jersey, we will continue our efforts to coordinate for the safety and security of the Jewish community in collaboration with local law enforcement,” Ben-Shimon said.
Six people had been killed in all in the attack, five of them inside JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive; two were the suspected gunmen, NorthJersey.com reported. Two additional officers were hit by gunfire but had been released from Jersey City Medical Center by Wednesday afternoon, the report said. Seals died during an encounter with the gunmen, according to the report.
Executive Director of the JCC of Central NJ, located in Scotch Plains, offered solidarity with the victims.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” said Mike Goldstein, the executive director. “The JCC of Central NJ condemns any and all acts of violence, anti-Semitism and racism. As always, the safety and security of our center remains a top priority. As the hub of our Jewish community, we stand for peace, unity and inclusion for all.”
Police departments from across the state, including Westfield Police, posted statements to social media in solidarity with the victims.
“We mourn, along with the entire law enforcement community, the death of Jersey City Police Department Detective Joseph Seals,” the department said in a statement. “Det. Seals, a husband and a father of 5 children, was senselessly murdered yesterday while serving the Jersey City community. The Westfield Police Department offers its condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Det. Seals.”
Seals, 39, is survived by his wife and five children. A 15-year veteran of, Seals was a member of the Jersey City Police Department’s Ceasefire Unit.
“Also murdered yesterday were three innocent victims — we also offer condolences to their family and friends,” police said. “Lastly, we wish a speedy recovery to the 2 JCPD officers who were injured.”