Two black-clad, heavily-armed killers specifically targeted a kosher deli for their carnage, coolly executing three innocent people inside the Jersey City store before they were gunned down to end a four-hour firefight, officials said Wednesday.
Murder suspects David Anderson and Francine Graham were the partners in hate behind the Tuesday killing spree that started with the murder of a highly-regarded Jersey City police detective and ended with five bodies found inside the JC Kosher Supermarket, according to reports.
Both suspects were killed, along with the trio of victims trapped inside the store — one of them a young Jewish mother of three.
Both Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo denounced the killings as premeditated and anti-Semitic, even as Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop refused to go beyond calling the shootings “a targeted attack.”
“It was an act of terror,” said de Blasio said at a Wednesday City Hall press conference where a moment of silence was held to honor victims Moshe Deutsch and Leah “Mindy” Ferencz, both Brooklyn natives.
“It was violent. It was directed. There is still a lot we need to know … but it is enough to tell us that this was an act of hate and an act of terror.”
Both the mayor and the governor increased security around New York’s synagogues and other Jewish establishments.
Anderson, a one-time member of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, joined Graham in leaving a rambling religious manifesto inside the stolen U-Haul truck they drove to the kosher grocery before their final stand, according to sources. An incendiary device was later found inside the vehicle.
Anti-cop and Anti-Jewish posts were also found on Anderson’s social media pages, sources told NBC.
Fulop and Jersey City Police Chief James Shea, the brother of NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, said neighborhood surveillance and CCTV cameras show Anderson and Graham zeroing in on the grocery at Martin Luther King Drive and Bayview Ave.
Their U-Haul moved slowly through city streets before stopping directly outside the Jewish store, with both shooters calmly exiting the van, opening the front door and immediately opening fire.
“It was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli,” Fulop told reporters during a brief press conference Wednesday morning.
The duo had just shot and killed Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals in a nearby cemetery before driving directly to the grocery, officials said. By the time the shooting ended, hundreds and hundreds of bullets were fired by the killers, cops said.
“We now know this did not begin with gunfire between police officers and perpetrators and then move to the store,” Shea said. “It began in the store.”
The third shooting victim was identified as Miguel Jason Rodriguez, a Newark man who took a job at the Jersey City store more than a year ago. The Ecuadorean immigrant leaves behind a wife and an 11-year-old daughter, according to NorthJersey.com.
A distant relative of Moishe Ferencz, whose wife died in the assault, said the repercussions from the killing echoed well beyond Jersey City.
“This tragedy not only befell our family, but the Jewish community from coast to coast in the U.S.,” he said. “But certainly the closer you are to the victim, there is much more pain.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the extra protections on Jewish sites throughout the city will remain for the foreseeable future.
“We denounce this act of senseless violence,” said Shea, adding there is currently no threat against the city.
The NYPD has also created a new unit to focus on growing levels of racial extremism in the city, de Blasio said.
The Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism Unit, known as REME, will “focus on identifying any trends and signs of racial and ethnic extremism and act before any terror or bias crime occurs,” de Blasio said.
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