Fears that a deadly shooting at a Jewish market in Jersey City was an anti-Semitic attack mounted on Wednesday as authorities recounted how a man and woman deliberately pulled up to the place in a stolen rental van with at least one rifle and got out firing, The Associated Press informed.
A day after the gunbattle and standoff that left six people dead, the two killers, a police officer and three people who had been inside the store, state and federal law enforcement officials warned they have not established the motive for the attack.
“The why and the ideology and the motivation – that’s what we’re investigating,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said, adding that authorities are also trying to determine if anyone else was involved.
But Mayor Steve Fulop said surveillance video of the attackers made it clear they targeted the kosher market, and he pronounced the bloodshed a hate crime against Jews, as did New York’s mayor and governor.
Also, investigators believe the two dead attackers, who were thought to be a couple, identified themselves in the past as Black Hebrew Israelites, a movement whose members have been known to rail against whites and Jews, according to a law enforcement official who was briefed on the matter but was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, AP added.
In addition, authorities have found social media postings from at least one of the killers that were anti-police and anti-Jewish, the official said. The FBI on Wednesday searched the Harlem headquarters of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, which is the formal name of the Black Hebrew group, according to the official.
The killers were identified as David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — both of them also prime suspects in the slaying of a delivery driver found dead in a car trunk in nearby Bayonne over the weekend, Grewal said. Anderson served about four months in prison in New Jersey on weapons charges and was paroled in 2011, authorities said.
Two of the victims at the store were identified by members of the Orthodox Jewish community as Mindel Ferencz, 31, who with her husband owned the grocery, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there. The Ferencz family had moved to Jersey City from Brooklyn. Authorities identified the third victim as store owner Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49.