NJ at­tack ‘fu­eled’ by anti-Semitism

State AG says ha­tred fu­eled fa­tal shoot­ing at Jewish mar­ket

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By David Porter and Michael R. Sisak

State’s AG said the killings in a Jersey City kosher mar­ket are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as an act of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism.

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 pipe bomb in their van.

“The out­come would have been far, far worse” if not for the Jersey City po­lice, Gre­wal said. Au­thor­i­ties noted that a Jewish school is next to the mar­ket, and a Catholic school is across the street.

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, 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 an­ti­Semitism and anti-law en­force­ment be­liefs,” the at­tor­ney gen­eral said. He said so­cial me­dia posts, wit­ness in­ter­views and other ev­i­dence re­flected the cou­ple’s ha­tred of Jews and po­lice.

Gre­wal noted that af­ter killing three peo­ple in the store, the cou­ple con­cen­trated their fire on po­lice.

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.

Not all sects of the move­ment spew hate­ful rhetoric, but many Black He­brew Is­raelites subscribe to an ex­treme set of anti-Semitic be­liefs. Those fol­low­ers view them­selves as the true “cho­sen peo­ple” and be­lieve that blacks, Lati­nos and Na­tive Amer­i­cans are the true de­scen­dants of the 12 Tribes of Is­rael, said Oren Se­gal, di­rec­tor of the An­tiDefama­tion

League’s Cen­ter on Ex­trem­ism.

“They view white peo­ple as agents of Satan,” Se­gal said. They be­lieve “Jews are liars and false wor­ship­pers of God. They view blacks as the true Is­raelites, and not the im­pos­tor Jews.”

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

An­der­son fired away with the AR-15-style ri­fle as he en­tered the 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; Moshe Deutsch, 24, a rab­bini­cal stu­dent from Brook­lyn who was shop­ping there; and store em­ployee Dou­glas Miguel Ro­driguez, 49. A fourth per­son in the store was shot and wounded but man­aged to es­cape, au­thor­i­ties said.

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.

If con­firmed as an an­tiSemitic at­tack, Tues­day’s shoot­ing would fol­low a pair of deadly at­tacks at U.S. syn­a­gogues within the past 14 months: one near San Diego that left one per­son dead in April, and one in Oc­to­ber 2018 at Tree of Life syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh that claimed 11 lives.

The Anti-Defama­tion League said this fall that the U.S. was on pace for a record num­ber of anti-Semitic in­ci­dents this year.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said Wed­nes­day that the Jersey City at­tack ap­peared to be “an­other in­ci­dent in a long line of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents tar­get­ing the Jewish com­mu­nity.”

Tues­day’s killings were rem­i­nis­cent of a 2015 at­tack in Paris in which a gun­man stormed a kosher su­per­mar­ket and killed four peo­ple, all of them Jewish. As with that at­tack, which fol­lowed the mas­sacre at Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine, the shoot­ing at Jersey City’s kosher mar­ket came af­ter an ear­lier spasm of vi­o­lence.

SETH WENIG/AP

New Jersey At­tor­ney Gen­eral Gur­bir Gre­wal said it’s be­lieved Tues­day’s shoot­ing was “fu­eled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law en­force­ment be­liefs.”

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