First Hand Report of the Gunfire in Jersey City

JC Kosher Supermarket with Khal Anshei Greenville next door. (googlemaps/file)

BROOKLYN – Yossie Steinmetz of Boro Park, who works in flooring in Jersey City, stopped into JC Kosher Supermarket to purchase a coffee as he often did. A minute after he exited the store and entered the shul located next door, he heard a volley of gunshots. Yossie was trapped in the shul for hours, and together with three other people who were with him, they began reciting Tehillim as the dangerous situation unfolded.

“There were cheder children in their classrooms upstairs,” Yossie told Hamodia, “but we remained huddled together in the shul, as we heard round after round of gunfire from the grocery and the street. To me, it seemed like a scene out of Afghanistan, with shots flying back and forth.”

After nearly an hour, Yossie went to the back yard of the shul and jumped the fence which divides it from the yard of the grocery. “I saw the worker who was employed in the grocery lying face down in the doorway leading to the yard,” said Yossie. “I could not tell if he was dead or just pretending. I was a bit surprised not to see any police around the yard. I thought that since so much time had passed, they would have been there to secure the perimeter. It seemed to me that one of the perpetrators could have escaped through the yard if they had wanted to.”

Yossie hurried back into the shul, but he did not share what he had seen with the others who were with him. “The husband of the woman who worked there was with me, and I didn’t want to get him agitated, so I kept it to myself,” he said.

Three hours later, or about four hours after their ordeal began, the police broke through the front door. “They came in with guns drawn, and we assured them that none of the suspects were in the building. As they began climbing to the second floor with their guns still drawn, we told them that there were little children upstairs, so they were cautious not to scare them any more than they already were.”

Yossie and the others were led to safety by the police, still shaken to the core by the events they had just experienced. “There wasn’t a bag of potato chips left in the store which was not punctured by gunfire,” he concluded.

Photo of SWAT team approaching the building taken by Yossie Steinmetz as he was holed up during the gunfire.