NJ attack ‘fueled’ by anti-Semitism
State AG says hatred fueled fatal shooting at Jewish market
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.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said it’s believed Tuesday’s shooting was “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”