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Jersey City officials debate if shooting was a hate crime

new jersey shooting jewish jews community anti-Semitic mayor attorney general Gurbir Grewal Steve Fulop
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Story at a glance

  • On Tuesday, Dec. 10, six people died in a shootout in Jersey City, N.J.
  • The two suspected gunmen entered a kosher Jewish deli and opened fire until police killed them hours later.
  • Despite the shooters having links to anti-Semitic groups, law enforcement is not ready to call the shooting a hate crime just yet.

Earlier this week, two shooters attacked civilians at the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, N.J. The assailants shot four civilians upon entering the supermarket, then engaged in a shootout with police lasting more than two hours. Three out of the four victims died, and the two suspects were killed in the standoff. 

Speaking with the press yesterday afternoon, State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal could not confirm that the shooting was motivated by anti-Semitism, or hatred toward the Jewish community.

This is a departure from Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s statement specifically referring to the incident as a “hate crime,” and that the Jewish deli was “targeted” by the attackers. There are several reports, based on online posts, that the suspects were involved with the Black Israelite Movement. 

The Black Israelite Movement advocates the idea that Black Americans are descended from ancient Israelites. They are not associated with the mainstream Jewish community, and some go as far as to view white Jewish people as “imposters.” 

The Southern Poverty Law Center has named the Black Israelite Movement a hate group.

While Grewal confirmed that the two suspects arrived at the scene in a white U-Haul van and went into the kosher deli, he was reticent to reach any definitive conclusions about motive. In the same press conference, Grewal statedDuring the early stages of an investigation, others may have incomplete or inaccurate information which can not only cause unnecessary panic in the community, but also undermine the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation.”

State officials now have two suspects in custody. NBC New York reports that they are David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, who are also accused of killing Detective Joseph Seals. Seals was shot in a cemetery about a mile away from the deli, and was reportedly part of a task force working to get illegal firearms off the streets.

Suspects Anderson and Graham are also linked to the killing of an Uber driver in Bayonne. It is possible that Joseph Seals recognized the van from an all-points bulletin and went to investigate, only to be shot. 

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