Senior members of the FBI’s Newark Office, along with other state and federal law enforcement agencies, confirmed today that the two deceased shooters that turned Jersey City into a battlefield last month also had plans to subsequently attack a Jewish community center in Bayonne.
Authorities still investigating the shooting did not specify exactly which Bayonne location was targeted by the two attackers, though, there is a Jewish Community Center (JCC of Bayonne) located on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, were killed in a kosher market on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard after killing Jersey City Police Det. Joseph Seals, Mindy Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch, and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez.
The two were also tied to a Dec. 11 murder of Uber driver Michael Rumberger in Bayonne.
“We know now that they planned greater acts of mayhem on both (Jewish and law enforcement) communities,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said at a presser at FBI headquarters on Monday.
As Hudson County View first reported, authorities traced two of the guns purchased in the shooting as having been purchased legally in Ohio by Graham in 2018.
Other weapons were allegedly purchased by the couple illegally at a pawn shot in Keyport, NJ, owned by Ahmed A-Hady. Authorities connected A-Hady to the weapons through a phone number that was found in the pocket of one of the shooters, they said.
Two additional Jersey City police officers was wounded, and another civilian escaped from the kosher market after surviving a gunshot wound.
FBI sources confirmed that Anderson and Graham had plotted the attack in Jersey City’s Greenville neighborhood for months.
Anderson served in the Army Reserves and had a lengthy criminal record for a number of gun charges, including a prison sentence, authorities said.
Anderson met Graham in 2017, and authorities reported that the two “expressed interest” in the fringe Black Hebrew Israelites movement, though the extent to which they were involved with the movement is unknown.
The December incident is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism by federal and state agencies, and the shooter’s motives are being investigated as “Anti-Semitic.”
Regardless, federal and state authorities reasserted their beliefs that the two were acting alone and not on behalf of any broader organization.
Inside of the U-Haul van used by the shooters was a pipe bomb, which authorities once again confirmed was viable for detonation, and a note that members of the press inquired about.
Authorities confirmed previous reports that the note said, “I do this because my creator makes me do this and I hate who he hates.”
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop previously went on record to assert his belief that a Yeshiva adjacent to the kosher market where the bedlam took place was another of the shooters’ targets, though authorities did not confirm or deny this at today’s presser.
1/2 I know I commented lots on this early (and some criticized me for it) but I have zero regrets now for certain w/anything that I said. Imagine we waited a month to discuss this through the lens of anti-semitism + a planned broader attack cont… https://t.co/M1EZvtCgZs
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) January 13, 2020
On the heels of the FBI presser, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal released law enforcement end-of-year reports which indicate that 944 bias incidents were reported to law enforcement in 2019, which Grewal said was the highest yearly number on record since 1996, based on data compiled by the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Reporting program.
The 944 reported bias incidents also represent a 65 percent increase from those reported in 2018.
“The terrible attack in Jersey City was by far the most violent bias incident in New Jersey last year, but it was hardly the only one,” Grewal said in a statement.
“We are committed to doing everything in our power to solve this problem. In addition to maintaining vigilance against such attacks, we in law enforcement are joining with community members and youth leaders across the state to counter the corrosive messages of hate that motivate such acts, and to replace them with messages of tolerance, understanding, and unity.”
Grewal attributed the increase in reported bias incidents in part due to the improvements in reporting methods, and “may be the result, in part, of improved reporting facilitated by the eUCR system, as well as recent incidents and outreach efforts that have raised the awareness of the public and law enforcement regarding the importance of reporting and thoroughly investigating all bias incidents.”