Official: Jersey City attack driven by hatred of Jews, law enforcement

The shooting is being investigated as a 'potential act of domestic terrorism'


Michael Sisak and David Porter
Associated Press

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The two killers who stormed a kosher market in Jersey City were driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement, New Jersey's attorney general said Thursday, adding that the case is being investigated as domestic terrorism.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal also disclosed that the man and woman had five guns, including an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun that they were wielding when they burst into the store in an attack that left the scene littered with several hundred shell casings. They also had a pipebomb in their van.

Police officers stand near the scene of a gun fight at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J. The state attorney general confirmed the shooting is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. (Photo/AP)
Police officers stand near the scene of a gun fight at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J. The state attorney general confirmed the shooting is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. (Photo/AP)

“The outcome would have been far, far worse,” if not for the Jersey City Police, Grewal said.

The attackers killed three people in the store, in addition to a police officer at a cemetery about a mile away, before dying in an hourslong gunbattle with police Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

“The evidence points toward acts of hate. I can confirm that we're investigating this matter as potential acts of domestic terrorism fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs,” the attorney general said. He said social media posts and other evidence reflected their hatred of Jews and police.

After killing three people in the store, the shooters concentrated their fire on police and did not shoot at others who happened to be on the street, Grewal said.

Grewal said the attackers, David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, had expressed interest in a fringe religious group called the Black Hebrew Israelites, whose members often rail against Jews and whites. But he said there was no evidence that they were members, and added that the two were believed to have acted alone.

The pair brought their cache of weapons in a U-Haul van they drove from Bay View Cemtery, where they fatally shot Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals, according to the attorney general.

Anderson fired away with the AR-15-style rifle as he entered teh store, while Graham brought a 12-gauge shotgun into the shop. They also had handguns with a homemade silencer and a device to catch shell casings. In all, they had five guns — four recovered in the store, one in the van, in what Grewal called a “tremendous amount of firepower.”

Serial numbers from two of the weapons showed that Graham purchased them in Ohio in 2018, the attorney general said.

The victims killed in the store were: Mindel Ferencz, 31, who with her husband owned the grocery; 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there; and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49.

Members of New York's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community gathered Wednesday night for funerals for Ferencz and Deutsch. Thousands of people, mostly men, followed Ferencz's casket through the streets of Brooklyn, hugging and crying.

The bloodshed in the city of 270,000 people across the Hudson River from New York City spread fear through the Jewish community and weighed heavily on the minds of more than 300 people who attended a vigil Wednesday night at a synagogue about a mile from where the shootings took place.

In the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, 11 people were killed in an October 2018 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Last April, a gunman opened fire at a synagogue near San Diego, killing a woman and wounding a rabbi and two others.

Associated Press
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