Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop says the gunmen in a furious firefight that left six people dead clearly targeted a Jewish market. Fulop did not, however, say the attack was anti-semitic.
Authorities are still investigating the shooting that took place at two scenes. The incident started at a cemetery, where an officer was gunned down, and continued to a kosher supermarket, where five more bodies were found, Police Chief Michael Kelly said in a press conference.
The investigation is looking into a potential connection between the attackers and the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, according to the Associated Press.The organization's members are known for their antagonism against white people and Jews. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the group a black supremacist group.
Two of the victims have been identified by members of the Orthodox Jewish community as Mindel Ferencz, who with her husband owned the grocery, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who happened to be shopping there on Tuesday. The Ferencz family had moved to Jersey City from Brooklyn.
Kelly identified Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals as the officer killed in the attack. Seals leaves behind five children, according to Chief Kelly, and was a veteran police officer of over 15 years.
Fulop said video showed the shooters driving slowly through the streets and then stopping outside the kosher store before opening fire. He refused to call the incident an anti-semitic attack. The state attorney general and law enforcement have not identified the shooters. City Public Safety Director James Shea told the Associated Press there was no indication the incident was an act of terrorism.
“Last night after extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location,” the mayor tweeted.
“There were multiple other people on the street so there were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place, so it was clear that was their target and they intended to harm people inside,” he said later in a press conference.
“I didn’t use the word `anti-Semitic," Funlop clarified. "Anything else is open for investigation.”
Funlop also added the "situation would have been far more tragic than what it already is."