Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was killed in the shooting on Tuesday. He was a married father of five
One police officer, three civilians, and two suspects are dead after a multi-hour SWAT standoff at a kosher market in Jersey City.
Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was gunned down and killed on Tuesday by the two unnamed suspects, who then went on to hijack a U-Haul truck, kill three civilians in a market, and engage in an hours-long shootout with police before the suspects themselves died.
Shocking bystander video shows the moment that another police officer was injured by gunfire from the suspects’ high-powered rifles during the standoff.
Seals, a married father of five, was a member of the CeaseFire Unit, a special team that tries to de-escalate gun violence and get firearms off the streets.
At around 12.30pm, Seals approached two suspects at or around the Bay View Cemetery as part of an investigation, and was shot dead, according to Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly.
The two suspects, who police say were both male despite previous reports to the contrary, then hijacked a U-Haul, fled the scene, and holed up in the JC Kosher Supermarket, killing three civilians there before cops, including the son of former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik, stormed the market in an armored vehicle and killed the suspects.
Police say that at this time they have no evidence that the incident is linked to terror or hate crimes, and that the situation is no longer active.
The fierce shootout terrified residents as gunfire rang out for hours, and at least two police officers were struck by gunfire in the standoff. Officials named the injured officers as Ray Sanchez and Farinella Fernandez. Both have since been released from the hospital in good condition.
The day of chaos across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan produced numerous conflicting reports about the shooters and the sequence of events, and many details have yet to be resolved.
Detective Joseph Seals, seen with his wife, was a married father of five who joined the Jersey City police department in 2006
Joe Seals pictured with his wife Laura Seals and four of their five children. He was among the four slain by the suspects
Six people have been killed in an hours-long shoot-out in Jersey City after a male and female suspect launched two-hour gun battle with a SWAT team that reportedly began in a cemetery and ended with them being shot inside a bodega
Gunfire erupted outside the JC Kosher Supermarket at 223 Martin Luther King Drive just after 12pm Tuesday as police officers reported over radio that two suspects armed with long guns had barricaded themselves inside and were shooting at anyone who approached
The gunshots continued for the next two hours, according to witnesses, as a heavy police presence from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies flocked to the scene
Video showed dozens of SWAT officers closing in on the bodega where the shots originated
The shooting spree reportedly began at the Bay View Cemetery before the suspects fled to the JC Kosher Supermarket
The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty.
Timeline of Jersey City shootout
Prior to 12.30pm: Detective Seals is shot dead at Bay View Cemetery while pursuing an investigation.
The two suspects flee the cemetery in a stolen U-Haul and are immediately pursued by police.
12.30pm: About mile away, the suspects ditch the stolen U-Haul and run inside the JC Kosher Supermarket, taking hostages.
12.30pm to around 3pm: Suspects fired repeatedly at cops from inside the store, as police set up a perimeter.
Around 3pm: Cops stormed the market in an armored vehicle, crashing through the plate glass window. Cops killed the suspects, and three civilians were found dead at the suspects’ hands.
4.15pm: Children were finally released from nearby schools after lockdowns lifted.
The shooting spread fear through the neighborhood, and the nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown as a precaution.
Seals was reportedly following up on a homicide investigation when he approached the two suspects in the cemetery.
He was a member of the CeaseFire unit, which often tries to intervene in gang conflicts to prevent retaliatory killings after drug murders.
Officials say that Seals was responsible for getting dozens of illegal firearms off the streets.
However, Chief Kelly declined to specify exactly what kind of investigation Seals was pursuing at the time he confronted the two suspects.
Kelly said that Seals had joined the Jersey City police department in 2006, and praised him as dedicated detective who was well-liked on the force.
‘Joe was somebody who was involved in city,’ said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop at a press conference. ‘Officers in other precincts knew who he was because he was a good cop.’
After shooting Seals, the two suspects fled the scene in what police describe as a stolen U-Haul truck.
Chief Kelly said that authorities are investigating a possible ‘incendiary device’ found in the stolen truck, but earlier reports that the vehicle was filled with pipe bombs could not be immediately confirmed by DailyMail.com.
FBI officials are pictured at the scene of the shooting at 223 Martin Luther King Drive
Medics are seen loading an injured woman into an ambulance on Martin Luther King Drive
Police say that the two suspects arrived at the JC Kosher Supermarket, about one mile away from the cemetery where Detective Seals was killed, driving the stolen U-Haul.
There, witnesses described two suspects dressed in all-black and armed with long guns storming into the market, which is attached to a Jewish synagogue.
Inside, the suspects apparently took hostages and began an hours-long shootout with heavily armed police.
Witness Brian Clark told CBS2: ‘I got caught in a one way street with a bunch of cars and I was wondering why nobody was moving. And all of a sudden I heard it. All the shots started. Shots started ringing out.
‘When I heard it, I see people running. I got out of the car and I see cops ducked down, and cops getting out of the way.
‘And I’m wondering why, what the hell? So I get out of my car and I see it, and I heard it – pow pow pow pow pow – then I realized I was in a shootout. I never heard that many shots in my life. It was like I was in a war zone.’
Andy Patel, works at a liquor store about three blocks away from the site of the shooting, told the Associated Press there had been consistent gunfire for at least an hour.
‘I can hear the gunshots. It’s like firecrackers going off,’ Patel said. ‘They were shooting like crazy about an hour ago. Then it stopped for like 20 or 30 minutes. The cops were clearing everyone off the streets.’
The standoff sparked a massive multi-agency response, and the scene was flooded with heavily armed NYPD emergency services unit officers, FBI agents,Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, and counter-terrorism task force officers.
Police blocked off the area while dozens of bystanders stood around the perimeter and filmed the action on their cellphones.
Newark Police Officer Joseph Kerik (left), the son of former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik (with him right) was one of the SWAT officers who stormed the market in an armored vehicle and shot the two desperate criminals dead
A heavy police presence is pictured at the scene soon after the active shooter situation was reported
Martin Luther King Drive was blocked off in both directions
The kosher grocery is a central fixture in a growing community of Orthodox Jews who have been moving to Jersey City in recent years. Authorities were unable to say why the gunmen went there.
Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, who shops at the kosher store and attends a synagogue next door, said he spoke with the store owner, Moishe Ferencz.
‘He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,’ Shapiro said. ‘His wife was inside the store. He said, `I hope my wife is safe.´’
The shootout went on for at least two hours, until police were able to take out the two suspects. The son of former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik was among the cops who helped take down the shooters, a source told the New York Post.
Kerik’s son Joseph Kerik, a cop in Newark and member of a federal task force, was among the officers on board an armored truck that ended the standoff by smashing through the market’s plate glass window and engaging the suspects, shooting them dead.
Along with the two dead suspects, police found three dead civilians inside the store. Chief Kelly said that preliminary information indicated that they were killed by the suspects, and not by friendly fire from the officers trying to save them.
The names of the victims inside the store were not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.
The Sacred Heart School, located across the street from where the shooting took place, was put on lockdown shortly after noon. Snapchat video from inside the school showed students sitting in the hallway and cowering under desks
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted that he had been briefed on the unfolding situation.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department, especially with the officers shot during this standoff, and with the residents and schoolchildren currently under lockdown,’ Murphy wrote.
The Sacred Heart School, located across the street from where the shooting took place, was put on lockdown shortly after noon.
Snipers were later seen on the roof of the building.
Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas confirmed that both Lincoln and Snyder high schools are on lockdown, as well as Schools 12, 14, 29, and 41.
President Donald Trump tweeted: ‘Just received a briefing on the horrific shootout that took place in Jersey City, NJ. Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the victims & their families during this very difficult & tragic time.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation as we assist local & state officials on the ground.’