AG: Jersey City killings being treated as domestic terrorism, hate crimes

0

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, along with federal and state officials, held the second presser since Tuesday’s active shooter incident in Jersey City’s Greenville neighborhood, revealing that it is now being treated as a domestic terrorism/bias incident.

Grewal said that investigators will be classifying the act as both a domestic terrorism and a hate crime, targeted toward both Jewish people and law enforcement officers.

“A number of social media accounts that we believe were used by the suspects purport to espouse certain viewpoints,” Grewal said.

“We believe the suspects held views expressing hatred of both the Jewish people and law enforcement. We do not know how they selected their targets, those being both the kosher market and Detective Joseph Seals. We have evidence that both suspects expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, but that they have no formal links to that organization. Evidence points toward these acts being fueled by hate and domestic terrorism and will be investigated as such.”

He also expressed that the shooters only aimed their fire at law enforcement officers during the nearly four-hour standoff.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito noted that the investigation is ongoing and every piece of evidence is being examined to find a definitive conclusion.

“We’re trying to piece together social media, electronic evidence, and ballistic evidence to piece together why the suspects chose this particular store, those particular individuals, and what the inflection point was to that incident,” he said.

Gregory Ehrie, the Executive Director of the FBI’s Newark office, said that, at this time, investigators do not believe there were any co-conspirators involved in the incident.

“We believe they acted alone. We will immediately notify the media and the public if we identify any other suspects or any evidence of ongoing threats anywhere.”

One reporter asked about a note that was purportedly found inside of the U-Haul, of which there is some unsubstantiated speculation.

“I think manifesto is a word the media is using, we would not characterize it as a manifesto at this point. That note is still a piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation and we cannot speak about it at this point,” Grewal said.

Five guns in total were recovered at the scene, the AG also said, noting that investigators found four inside of the Kosher deli.

According to Grewal, it is believed that David Anderson used an AR-15 Mosberg rifle, and Graham appeared to have been using a 12-gauge shotgun.

In the store, investigators also found a 9mm Ruger pistol and a 9mm Glock pistol. Additionally, a .22 Caliber Ruger Mk4 which was found in the stolen U-Haul the suspects arrived at the scene with.

Two of the weapons were traced back to the point of purchase: a gun shop in Ohio. Additionally, the stolen van was outfitted with ballistic panels, Grewal said.

Five autopsies have been fully conducted already, with one remaining, authorities said.

Two of the deceased individuals, Moshe Deutsch and Mindy Ferencz, had a rabbi present, and the investigators were able to ensure that their bodies were released promptly enough to carry out burials according to Orthodox tradition.

Across the street from the Kosher market is a Yeshiva school, which was occupied by dozens of students during the incident. The Kosher market abutted a small synagogue.

“One thing remains abundantly clear: if not for the leadership of the Jersey City Police Department and Chief Michael Kelly, the outcome would’ve been far, far worse,” Grewal said. “We continue to follow all investigative leads.”

“We will continue to provide the public with information that is properly vetted and thoroughly accurate. We will get you that information as quickly as we can, but we think it is more important to be right than to be fast.”

Marc Bussanich, John Heinis, and Mike Montemarano, contributed to this report.