FBI Investigating Jersey City Shooting As Act Of Domestic Terrorism

Dec 12, 2019
Originally published on December 12, 2019 6:45 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In New Jersey, authorities are revealing more details about the attack on a kosher market in Jersey City. That shooting left six people dead, including the attackers. Investigators believe the pair were motivated by hatred of Jews and the police. NPR's Jeff Brady reports the FBI is investigating it as a case of domestic terrorism.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Authorities say the two suspects were heavily armed and prepared for a fight. The crime scene was littered with hundreds of bullet casings. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says investigators recovered five guns.

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GURBIR GREWAL: An AR-15-style weapon, which we believe David Anderson was firing as he entered the supermarket - we recovered a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun, which we believe Francine Graham was carrying as she entered the supermarket.

BRADY: Grewal says two other guns were inside the store, and a fifth one with a homemade silencer was in the van the two drove to the market. Grewal says Graham purchased two of the guns in Ohio in 2018. More evidence the pair were prepared for a gun battle - the van they drove was outfitted with ballistic panels. On what motivated the attackers, Grewal says the two expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls these hate groups because of their anti-Semitic and anti-white beliefs. Grewal says so far, investigators have not tied the attackers to any specific groups, and he thinks they acted on their own. He says it appears the two were motivated by hate.

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GREWAL: We believe that the suspects held views that reflected hatred of the Jewish people as well as a hatred of law enforcement.

BRADY: The FBI is leading the investigation of what it calls a domestic terrorism event with a hate crime bias. Gregory Ehrie is the special agent in charge of the FBI Newark office. As he recounted some of the evidence, his voice halted when talking about the attackers.

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GREGORY EHRIE: The cowards that took down those innocent victims engaged only the folks in that store and in the law enforcement community. You could see people walking by. They didn't engage anyone.

BRADY: Investigators say they quickly finished autopsies on the victims so that two Orthodox Jews could be buried in accordance with their faith. While the investigation continues, authorities believe the victims all were killed by the attackers within minutes of them entering the store, not in the extended gun battle with police that took place for several hours after. Last night, a vigil was held at a synagogue about a mile from where the attacks took place. Jersey City also is remembering Detective Joseph Seals. Investigators believe the couple killed him at a cemetery a mile away before attacking the kosher market. Seals had five children. An online fundraiser for his family brought in more than $280,000 in less than 24 hours. Steve Lenox is a spokesman for the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, which organized the fundraiser.

STEVE LENOX: We would anticipate the money would probably be used for education costs for these children growing up. You know, they lost their hero father. They should want for nothing in the coming years as they continue to grow up.

BRADY: New Jersey authorities have warned against fundraising scams they say popped up in the hours after the attacks. The website GoFundMe, which is hosting the Seals' fundraiser, says the company will insure all money raised on its platform goes directly to the intended recipients.

Jeff Brady, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.