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Authorities are investigating what motivated a deadly Jersey City shooting that lasted for hours

(CNN) — The gunfire lasted for hours in a standoff that left four people dead in Jersey City, New Jersey, with the city streets taken over by armed...
New Jersey Shooting

 

(CNN) — The gunfire lasted for hours in a standoff that left four people dead in Jersey City, New Jersey, with the city streets taken over by armed officers and the sounds of sirens and gunshots.

Authorities say the investigation into what started Tuesday’s gunbattle in the city across the Hudson River from Manhattan could last weeks — or even months.

The shooting began around 12:30 p.m. and stretched over at least three locations, police say, until authorities announced the suspects had been killed.

“The crime scene is very extensive,” Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly told reporters. “And is at three locations, at least.”

The bodies of five people — two suspects and three people believed to be civilians — were found inside JC Kosher Supermarket, according to police. A sixth person — a police detective — also was killed, apparently near a cemetery, Kelly said.

Three other people — two police officers and a civilian — were injured by gunfire, authorities said.

What we know

As authorities piece together the timeline of the deadly shooting, much of what led up to the firefight and how it unfolded is still unclear.

CNN affiliates reported the first shooting occurred at Bay View Cemetery on Garfield Avenue in Jersey City.

Chaotic scenes then unfolded on city streets, with bursts of gunfire and blaring sirens heard as heavily armed officers responded, video shared on social media shows. Commerce near the gunfire virtually shut down, and schools went on lockdown.

Continuous gunfire could be heard in the city for one harrowing 20-second stretch before 2 p.m.

Hours after the shooting began, police announced two suspects were killed in a standoff at the kosher supermarket, less than a mile from the cemetery. Details about the deaths of the three other people found in the supermarket weren’t immediately released.

Part of the investigation involves a stolen U-Haul truck, which Kelly said was being examined by a bomb squad.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has tweeted twice — on Tuesday and Wednesday — that the investigation leads authorities to believe the shooters targeted the kosher market.

In Wednesday’s tweet, Fulop said it has “now become clear from (surveillance) cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location.”

Fulop has not elaborated on what the video shows, how it indicates the shooters targeted the market or what reason the suspects would have had to target the business.

Jersey City Department of Public Safety Director James Shea said Tuesday that there is no indication of terrorism. Law enforcement officials have not said anything about the shooters choosing any location or victim for specific reasons.

Fulop noted Wednesday he is “Jewish and proud to live in a community like #JerseyCity that has always welcomed everyone.”

“Hate and anti-semitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city,” Fulop tweeted.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio added that officers have been deployed to protect the Jewish community in his city.

“Although there is no credible or specific threat directed against New York City, I have directed the NYPD to assume a state of high alert. Tonight, NYPD assets are being redeployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Tomorrow, we will announce additional measures,” de Blasio tweeted Tuesday.

Officer killed part of anti-violence unit

The fallen officer was identified as Det. Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the department, Kelly said. He is believed to have been ambushed, according to a law enforcement source.

Seals was part of a statewide anti-violence unit, and Kelly credited him with removing “dozens and dozens” of handguns from the streets in Jersey City.

“We believe he was killed while trying to interdict these bad guys,” Kelly told reporters Tuesday, adding, “Once again, this is all being investigated.”

Two officers and one civilian were in stable condition after being struck by gunfire, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said via Twitter. The wounded officers were identified by Kelly as Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez. They were both treated and released.

City shudders

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, who announced his office is leading the criminal investigation, said he and his staff are mourning with the city.

“We recognize the fear that communities rightfully feel after traumatic incidents such as these, and we are committed to providing all resources necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our fellow residents,” Grewal said.

Jersey City Public Schools will have a delayed start on Wednesday in the wake of the shooting.

In a brief news conference Tuesday evening, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy praised the efforts of law enforcement, who “responded to this incident not knowing what they were entering, or if they would even make it out.”

“If not for them,” Murphy said, “I shudder, we shudder to think about how much worse today could have been.”

The New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association tweeted: “We need a lot of prayers right now for Jersey City officers. Keep all those involved in your thoughts.”