In Depth

New Jersey shooting: what happened?

Six killed including one police officer in four-hour stand-off in kosher supermarket

A police officer and at least five other people have been killed in a major gun battle in Jersey City, New Jersey.

According to reports, two other police officers were also wounded during the incident, which “ended in a shootout after two gunmen barricaded themselves in a kosher supermarket”. Both gunmen were killed.

The authorities initially said that “they did not believe it was an act of terrorism”, the BBC says, but The Jewish Chronicle claims that the perpetrators “deliberately targeted” a kosher supermarket near to a synagogue. Members of the area’s Haredi Jewish community were also reportedly among the dead. Here’s what we know so far.

What happened?

According to Al Jazeera, the “bullets started flying early in the afternoon” on Tuesday in Jersey City, which has a population of about 270,000. Police said the first incident took place at a local cemetery and involved a confrontation between police and suspects.

Police back-up arriving at the scene immediately came under “high-powered rifle fire”, Jersey City police chief Mike Kelly said. A local police officer named as Joseph Seals was killed “while approaching the two suspects”, the BBC reports.

The broadcaster adds that gunmen “fled the scene in a van and took shelter in a kosher supermarket where they held off armed police and federal officials for four hours, shooting off hundreds of rounds of ammunition”.

It is thought that the suspects killed three people in the shop before they were shot dead.

What has been the response?

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted in the wake of the incident: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department, especially with the officers shot during the standoff.”

“Based on what we now know, there are no ongoing threats to public safety that have any connections to today's events,” Murphy told reporters at a news conference. “This has been an incredibly tough day for Jersey City and the entire state of New Jersey.”

The Independent reports that Kelly paid tribute to Seals later in the day, crediting him with having led the department in the number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years.

Was it terrorism?

Officials are still determining what started the gun battle. At a press conference Jersey City’s director of public safety, James Shea, said there was “no indication” that the incident was terror-related.

However, The New York Times notes that by the evening, the city’s mayor Steven Fulop said on Twitter that officials now believed that the gunmen had “targeted the location they attacked”, this being the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Jr Drive.

“I know the entire Jersey City community stands together with the Jewish Community during these challenging times,” Fulop tweeted.

Chaim Deutsch, a councillor in nearby New York City, tweeted on Tuesday night that “evidence indicates that this attack was motivated by antisemitism”.

“This is horrifying,” he added. “Jews have been attacked, beaten, & killed, simply because of our religion,” the Jewish Chronicle reports.

Investigators have since revealed that they believe the suspects’ getaway van contained an “incendiary device”, which was removed and taken away for examination.

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