A day after multiple people were killed in a shooting at a kosher deli in Jersey City, the details surrounding the massacre are still hazy.
Initially on Tuesday, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and the city’s public safety director said there was no indication that the attack was an act of terrorism. Within hours, Fulop said the attack was targeted against a specific kosher deli, though the exact motive is still unknown.
Stranger still, the vehicle the shooters used was connected to a previous homicide — though officials have not said which one — and it was later reported to have been stolen, though it’s not clear if the theft occurred on Tuesday or earlier.
The incident began at Bayview Cemetery midday Tuesday, when a Jersey City detective spotted a U-Haul van that had been linked to a homicide over the weekend.
When Detective Joe Seals approached the van, he was shot and killed. Later, a pipe bomb was found inside the vehicle, which FBI Gregory Eerie described Wednesday as “viable” and “sophisticated, in the sense that time and effort went into creating it.”
From there, the vehicle and its two inhabitants drove to another part of Jersey City, eventually approaching JC Kosher Supermarket a mile away. They began firing into the store, drawing the attention of two officers a block away. An hours-long shootout ensued.
“Their movement was rapid and continuous for four hours within that area,” Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said Tuesday night.
Revising their claims from the day earlier about the shooting, Jersey City officials said Wednesday that security camera footage indicated the kosher deli was deliberately targeted.
“It was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli,” Fulop told reporters Wednesday morning. “We could see the van moving through Jersey City streets slowly. The perpetrators stopped in front of there, calmly opened the door with two long rifles — him and the other perpetrator — and began firing from the street into the facility.”
Jersey City Director of Public Safety James Shay said details had emerged since Tuesday, when the incident “was still developing, and was still hot, and we didn’t know exactly how it began.”
“We now know that this did not begin with gunfire between police officers and perpetrators and then move to the store. It began with an attack on the civilians in the store,” he said, adding later: “There were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place, so clearly that was their target.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Wednesday identified the shooters as David Anderson and Francine Graham.
Citing unnamed law enforcement sources, NBC News reported Wednesday that Anderson’s social media pages included anti-police and anti-Semitic posts, and the Times’ source said investigators believed the attack was motivated by those sentiments. NBC further reported that “a note with religious writings,” in the outlet’s words, was found inside the van.
But Shay on Wednesday warned against assuming an anti-Semitic motive, citing the ongoing state attorney general’s investigation.
“I didn’t use the words anti-Semitic. The motives are still part of the investigation.”
Still, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a press conference later on Wednesday, called the shooting a “premeditated, violent, anti-Semitic hate crime” and “an act of terror.”
In addition to Seals, three victims from inside of the store were identified Wednesday as Mindy Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch and Miguel Douglas. Deutsch was the son of noted Satmar Rabbi Abe Deutsch, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Ferencz owned the deli with her husband. Douglas, who was initially identified in several reports as Miguel Jason Rodriguez, reportedly worked at the deli.