On Tuesday (December 10), gun violence in Jersey City, New Jersey, left at least three civilians and one police officer dead, according to NPR. One of the two suspects had previously published anti-police and anti-Semitic posts, which investigators believe could have motivated the attack, the New York Times reported.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said at a news conference on Wednesday (December 11) that the perpetrators, who were also killed on the scene, specifically targeted a kosher supermarket, which carries foods that align with dietary rules observed by some Jewish people.
“At the time of the incident yesterday, it was difficult to understand intent, and there's still a lot of questions around that,” Fulop said, according to NPR. “But after reviewing the cameras on the Jersey City side, we do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli across the street here.”
Two police officers who had been walking patrol near the store quickly responded to the gunshots after the perpetrators began their attack. Both officers were shot and injured, and three bystanders and both suspects were killed during the shootout. As of publish time, none of the three victims have been publicly identified.
“From what we can tell on the CCTV cameras, had they not responded — and had they not been there in that location — more than likely more people would have died,” Fulop said, according to NPR. “The reason that those perpetrators seemed to be inside of that deli, and not able to move potentially to the school or to inflict more harm, was because the police responded immediately and returned fire.”
Detective Joe Seals was also shot and killed before the attack occurred; he had approached the two suspects’ van near a cemetery, NPR reported. Per the Times, he was a father of five and 15-year law enforcement veteran.
While local officials called the attack “targeted” on the kosher deli, they haven’t qualified it as an anti-Semitic attack yet.
“I didn't use the words ‘anti-Semitic,’” James Shea, the public safety director in Jersey City told a reporter, according to NPR. “The motives are still part of the investigation. They exited the van, and they proceeded to attack this location in a targeted manner. Anything else is open for investigation.”
In response, many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates called for stricter gun control measures in the U.S.
This shooting comes just a year after a gunman killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Since then, anti-Semitic homicides have been increasing, according to the FBI’s annual statistics. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the U.S. has been experience a nearly record-high number of anti-Semitic incidents over the past few years, NBC News reported. In the first six months of 2019, there were nearly 800 cases of anti-Semitism, including vandalism and arson. 2017 was the worst year for anti-Semitic acts in three decades; there were nearly 2,000 reported cases of assaults, vandalism, and threats that specifically targeted Jewish people and events like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.