An hours-long gun battle that erupted during an attempted gun bust in in Jersey City left six people dead, including three civilians, a police officer and the two gunmen.
Misaskim and Chesed Shel Emes responded to the scene to ensure kavod hameis.
The incident appears to have begun during a police operation to interdict guns at Bay View Cemetery at Garfield and Chapel Avenues, around 12:30 p.m, Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
During the operation, the two perpetrators began shooting at police with “high-powered rifle fire,” Kelly said. Det. Joseph Seals, who was wearing plainclothes, sustained fatal wounds.
The perpetrators then fled and holed up at the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket at 223 Martin Luther King Drive, around a mile from the cemetery. Kelly said the perpetrators had a stolen U-Haul vehicle which “may contain an incendiary device.”
A gun battle and siege ensued for hours. The entire area, which contained several schools, was placed on lockdown. The building next to the store, at 221 Martin Luther King Drive, is a shul and cheder.
One Jewish man was wounded, and is in stable condition in Cornell Hospital.
Numerous additional law-enforcement agencies converged on Jersey City, including the police forces of Essex and Bergen Counties, Port Authority Police, New Jersey State Police, NYPD and the FBI.
With gunfire blazing, armed officers swarming in armored vehicles, and people in the neighborhood cowering on the ground and in homes, the scene looked like a war zone.
“Hundreds of shots” were fired before police finally broke into the store around 4:30 p.m.
One person near the scene told Hamodia, “There wasn’t a bag of potato chips left in the store which was not punctured by gunfire.”
When police entered the store, they found five people dead, including the two gunmen and three civilians.
Kelly said all the dead civilians are believed to have been killed by the gunmen, not by police fire.
The gunmen have been described only as two males. The victims have not been positively identified, and numerous rumors regarding victims’ names have been swarming on social media.
Kelly said the neighborhood “has had challenges,” but it “has become a much, much safer and better neighborhood” over the past two to three years.
City officials touted the police response.
The police department was “immediately “ on the scene, Public Safety Director James Shea said at the news conference. “There is no question that the Jersey City Police department did what they are supposed to do to protect the people in that neighborhood.”
“We have the best police department anywhere, and that was demonstrated today,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Sometime people don’t appreciate the tough work these police officers do every single day.”
Det. Seals, a 15-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, focused on illegal guns, and had successfully removed many illegal weapons from the streets of Jersey City, Kelly said. Seals was married with five children.
When officials came to the hospital to inform Seals’ loved ones of his passing, “We cried with the family,” said Fulop.
Updated Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 8:26 pm .