Jersey City, NJ – Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop told reporters on Wednesday that the shooters who killed four people in his city, including a police detective, had clearly targeted the kosher market where the rampage ended.
Investigators on Tuesday evening found a manifesto-style document in the stolen U-Haul van the suspects had driven to the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive and Bayview Avenue, The New York Times reported.
Two officials told The New York Times that the document was short and “rambling” but did not provide any clear motive for the shooting spree.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal told reporters that police also found an operable, live pipe bomb inside the U-Haul van, The New York Times reported.
“Following the event, the vehicle that the two individuals arrived to the location in was searched by our state police professionals forensically,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Gregory Ehrie explained.
“They did locate in that, amongst other items that I won’t be discussing, a pipe bomb improvised explosive device… it was examined, it’s down at the FBI laboratory right now,” Agent Ehrie continued. “It as a viable device, meaning it could be a device that would have exploded. It was again of a pipe bomb design – not complicated but sophisticated in a sense that time and effort went into creating it.”
Grewal identified 47-year-old David N. Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham as the suspects who fatally shot one police officer and three innocent civilians on Dec. 10.
Two more police officers were wounded, one in the shoulder and another in the torso, but both have already been treated and released from the hospital.
Anderson has been identified as a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a black supremacist hate group which believes that they are the descendants of a lost tribe of Israelites and that Jews are imposters.
Law enforcement sources said the extent of Anderson’s involvement in the hate group was still unclear.
Investigators found anti-Semitic and anti-police postings on Anderson’s social media and were working to determine if those had actually been posted by the shooter, WNBC reported.
The hate group previously made headlines after harassing students from Covington Catholic High School, when news media spread false reports that the students were the ones harassing a group of black people and Native American drummer Nathan Phillips.
The attorney general told reporters that authorities still did not have a definitive motive for the incident.
Police said it all began when Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the police force, was fatally shot during a homicide investigation after he approached the two suspects in the Bayview Cemetery.
Authorities said that Anderson and Graham were suspects in a homicide that took place in nearby Bayonne, and when they encountered Det. Seals, they opened fire, The New York Times reported.
The shooters – a man and a woman dressed entirely in black - fled the cemetery in a stolen U-Haul van.
Surveillance videos from security cameras on streets and businesses around the kosher market showed that the suspects arrived at about 12:20 p.m. and drove the stolen van up to the front of the JC Kosher Supermarket.
Anderson and Graham both got out of the van with high-powered rifles and opened fire into the business, The Washington Post reported.
NJ.com reported that nearby surveillance video showed the each carried one gun inside the store and from a perch inside, opened fire on anyone who got near the front of the store, including police and civilians.
The hours-long gun battle ended when Newark Police Department SWAT officers in an armored vehicle smashed through the front of the store, WNYW reported.
Police found five people dead inside the store, including Anderson and Graham.
The victims have been identified as 33-year-old Mindel Ferencz, who ran the store with her husband, 24-year-old Moshe Deutch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn, and 49-year-old Miguel Douglas, The New York Times reported.
Investigators have determined that the three innocent civilians found dead inside the kosher supermarket were killed by the suspects and not by police gunfire.
“If not for the tremendous work of law enforcement, from the immediate response of the Jersey City Police Department, for the support from the state police and local and federal agencies, today we would be coming to terms with a much starker reality,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told reporters, crediting the multi-agency response that coordinated for hours to neutralize the suspects.