Jersey City, NJ – One of the gunmen who opened fire at a kosher market in Jersey City on Tuesday had served in the U.S. military and previously spent time in jail on weapons charges.
A high-ranking investigator in New Jersey told WPIX that 47-year-old David Anderson had been a soldier in the U.S. Army in the early 1990s.
Court records showed that Anderson was arrested for weapons offenses tied to a domestic violence incident in Kent, Ohio in 2011.
But then later that year, he was arrested in New Jersey and ended up spending three years in the Hudson County jail on weapons charges, WPIX reported.
Anderson was released from the Hudson County jail in 2014.
WPIX reported that Anderson became involved with the Black Hebrew Israelites after he left the U.S. Army.
The Black Hebrew Israelites are a black supremacist hate group which believes that they are the descendants of a lost tribe of Israelites and that Jews are imposters.
Officials said the extent of Anderson’s involvement in the hate group was still unclear, but law enforcement sources told WPIX that Anderson had been linked to the Israelite Church of God in Jersey City.
The Israelite Church of God is located only two blocks from where Anderson and his partner, 50-year-old Francine Graham, opened fire on a Jewish storefront, WPIX reported.
Investigators have 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.
Although Graham’s involvement with the Black Hebrew Israelites has not yet been confirmed, officials have said they confirmed that she was the one who rented the U-Haul van that was used to transport the shooters to their target, WPIX reported.
The same U-Haul was linked to the murder of a livery driver in Bayonne on Saturday after the driver was found dead in a car trunk.
Investigators said that Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals encountered the U-Haul van in the Bayview Cemetery just after 12 noon on Dec. 10 and was ambushed by Anderson and Graham.
Det. Seals was fatally shot by the suspects before they fled the scene.
Surveillance video showed Anderson and Graham traveled to the kosher market, got out of the van with high-powered rifles, and opened fire on the JC Kosher Market before barricading themselves inside for an hours-long standoff with police.
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.
Authorities said at a press conference on Wednesday that a pipe bomb and additional weapons had been found in the U-Haul truck.
“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 to reporters.
“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.”
WPIX reported that the pipe bomb had a long fuse on it that could have been lit.
Jewish community leaders have speculated that the shooters, who killed three innocent civilians inside the kosher market and wounded two other police officers after they murdered Det. Seals, had planned to kill many more people based on the pipe bomb and other evidence that had been gathered.
There is an orthodox Jewish Pre-K located next door to the JC Kosher Market and there were between 50 and 60 children trapped inside it when Anderson and Graham began their rampage, WPIX reported.