Jersey City residents say shootout that killed 6 was like ‘living in a war zone’

Two gunmen turned a Jersey City neighborhood into a virtual war zone when they fled into a kosher market after fatally shooting a detective Tuesday afternoon, the city’s police chief said.

The cop-killers are believed to have killed three hostages inside the store while exchanging gunfire for hours with the heavily armed cops who swarmed the city’s Greenville neighborhood, Police Chief Michael Kelly said.

The fusillades — which involved hundreds of shots fired and prompted a lockdown of all city schools, including one directly across the street — finally ended with the unidentified killers shot dead by cops, Kelly said.

Although officials “have no inkling what the motive is yet,” terrorism isn’t suspected, Kelly said.

The deadly violence erupted around 12:30 p.m., when authorities were alerted to gunfire at 223 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., which houses the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket.

When cops got there, they were “immediately engaged with high-power rifle fire,” Kelly told reporters.

Around the same time, Kelly said, police learned there was an “officer down” on Garfield Avenue near Caven Point Avenue, about three-quarters of a mile away.

Kelly identified the slain cop as Detective Joseph Seals — a married father of five who “came up in the South District,” which covers the area, and was assigned to the department’s “Cease Fire Unit” shooting-response team.

Seals was “our leading police officer in removing guns from the street,” Kelly said.

“Dozens and dozens of handguns he’s responsible for removing from the street,” Kelly said. “We believe that he was killed while trying to interdict these bad guys.”

Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said Seals spotted a stolen U-Haul van linked to a killing in Bayonne this past weekend and was shot in the head when he tried to question its occupants. The fatal bullet entered behind one of Seal’s ears, according to NJ.com.

Cops who responded to 911 reports about the shooting blocked the van — which was later found to contain a pipe bomb — leading the killers to get out and run into the market, the sources said. They’re suspected of killing one customer immediately upon entering the store, which they apparently picked at random, sources said.

Another customer narrowly escaped the carnage, according to a report posted on the Chabad website run by the Lubavitch movement of orthodox Jews, which quoted an audio recording circulated on the WhatsApp messaging service.

“I was standing by the salad bar in the grocery, and I heard three shots, bullets shattered the glass of the grocery,” the customer said.

“Suddenly I saw two people come in, with long black raincoats and long guns. They tried to point the gun at me. I pushed it away and ran away.”

The market’s owner also avoided the killers because he left moments earlier to pray during the afternoon service at a storefront synagogue, according to the site.

Shooting Jersey City

Shooting Jersey City

Law enforcement guard the entrance to a grocery store after a shooting in Jersey City.

AP

Jersey city shooting - December 10, 2019Credit: Peter Gerber

Jersey city shooting - December 10, 2019Credit: Peter Gerber

Peter Gerber

Jersey city shooting - December 10, 2019 Credit: Peter Gerber

Jersey city shooting - December 10, 2019 Credit: Peter Gerber

Peter Gerber

Jersey city shooting - December 10, 2019 Credit: Peter Gerber

Jersey city shooting - December 10, 2019 Credit: Peter Gerber

Peter Gerber

4

View Slideshow

Kelly said the gun battles and standoff with police that followed lasted about four hours, Kelly said.

Dashawn Williams, who works nearby as a building superintendent, told The Post that he heard “machine guns, shotgun, regular gunshots.”

“It sounded like more than a hundred shots — and it was going on for more than an hour,” said Williams. “It was random. It was like a battle going off block to block. You didn’t know what to think. You were living in a war zone.”

The owner of the Patria Food Market, located down the block from the kosher market, told The Post he ran into his store when the shooting started and huddled there with about 10 others.

“I was bringing in deliveries when I heard shots. I looked over and I saw two police officers firing into the [kosher grocery] store,” Nelson Rodriquez, 61, said in Spanish.

“They were being shot at from inside the store, and they were shooting back into the store.” Rodriguez said it “was like a war.”

“I’ve seen people shot,” he said. “I’ve heard two or three shots. But nothing like this … I think there were more than a thousand shots. It was incredible.”

In addition to Jersey City cops, the law-enforcement response included the NYPD, Port Authority police, New Jersey State Police, cops from Essex and Bergen counties, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Kelly said.

“Anyone within earshot of us responded,” Kelly said.

When cops were finally able to enter the grocery store — after a robot was sent inside — they found five people dead, Kelly said.

“We believe two of them are bad guys. We believe three of them are not and may be civilians that were inside the store,” he said.

Asked if any of the civilians were accidentally shot by cops, Kelly said, “We think that this was all bad-guy fire.”

Two Jersey City cops, Ray Sanchez and Farinella Fernandez, were wounded, with one shot in the shoulder and the other in the body, Kelly said.

Both were treated and released from Jersey City Medical Center.

The New Jersey State Police chaplain Rabbi Abe Friedman said, “We are devastated at the loss of Det. Seals and the three civilians, their families are in our prayers.”

Additional reporting by Alex Taylor, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon and Craig McCarthy

Follow 3-www.NET
Follow
e-News.US
  
Share
e-News.Us

Category Latest Posts