The shooting spree that culminated at a kosher deli in New Jersey on Tuesday is being investigated as an act of terrorism, officials said Thursday.
The shooters started their rampage by killing a Jersey City detective then driving a mile in a stolen U-Haul van to JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City. They immediately got out and started shooting into the store, killing three.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said at a press conference Thursday that the alleged shooters, who died in the shootout, appear to have been motivated by bias against Jews, and against police.
Based on recent witness interviews and other evidence, he said, “we believe that the suspects held views that reflected hatred of the Jewish people, as well as a hatred of law enforcement.”
“We are investigating this matter as potential acts of domestic terrorism, fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs,” he added.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said the shooters’ motives were “clearly” a bias against Jews and law enforcement.
“The cowards that took down those innocent victims engaged only the folks in that store and in the law enforcement community,” he said. “You can see people walking by. They didn’t engage anyone. They were clearly targeting that store. They were clearly targeting the Jersey City Police Department. We don’t know why, and that’s where we are now.”
Grewal said five guns were recovered at the scene, four of them in the deli: an AR-15-style weapon, a 12-gauge shotgun, a two 9-millimeter weapons. Inside the U-Haul, he said, police found a Ruger Mark IV with a homemade silencer.
Police also found a viable pipe bomb in the vehicle. Several hundred shell casings littered the scene.
Authorities have confirmed that the shooters, identified as David Anderson and Francine Graham, are suspects in the murder of a livery driver over the weekend. But they said Thursday it remains unclear if there’s any other link between that incident and Tuesday’s shooting. Anderson and Graham were both killed in the act.
Other details remain hazy.
For example, several reports on Wednesday citing law enforcement sources said Anderson and Graham had ties to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The fringe group’s adherents assert that they, rather than Jews, are the true descendants of the ancient Israelites.
But while the shooters had “expressed interest” in the movement in the past, Grewal said, no formal ties had been established between them and that group or any other. Anderson and Graham are believed to have acted on their own, he said.
Also hazy: reports of a note left inside the U-Haul. NBC News, ABC News and the New York Post, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, said the note included a line to the effect of, “I do this because my creator makes me do this, and I hate who he hates.”
“Manifesto is a word that the media is using,” Grewal said. “We have not discovered anything that we would characterize as a manifesto at this point.”