Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals was shot and killed on Tuesday when he tried to stop two armed suspects.

As part of the Jersey City Police Department’s Cease Fire Unit, the 40-year-old Seals had helped to confiscate dozens of guns from criminals. Seals was a 15-year veteran of the police force and had been promoted to detective two years ago.

Pat Colligan, president of the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, said Seals will not be forgotten — and the trauma from the day will not soon be allayed.

“A little piece of us dies when a brother or sister officer dies,” he said Tuesday evening. “This officer had five young children under the age of 18. It tears your heart out, this isn’t what anybody expects."

Colligan said law enforcement officers are trained to react to violent shootouts but what unfolded in Jersey City was shocking and disturbing.

After shooting Seals near a cemetery, the armed men fled in a U-Haul truck and ended up in a kosher market, where they opened fire and killed three civilians, officials said Tuesday. Two other officers also were injured in the hail of bullets that rang through the neighborhood. Next door was a Jewish school and across the street a Catholic elementary school.

Also injured were officers Ray Sanchez, Farinella Fernandez and Joe Kerik, the son of NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and police leaders lauded officers for rushing into danger.

"That’s not something everybody does every day," Colligan said. "It has a profound effect, even on officers with 10, 20 even 30 years on the job. This isn’t a routine call.”

“The adrenaline rush is literally insane, and then you make sure the officer calms down and then take care of his mental being over the next few days. Everyone reacts differently.”

Shooting Jersey City
Shooting Jersey City

Colligan said experiencing this kind of a situation may stay with many officers for the rest of their lives and some require help processing what they’ve gone through.

“There aren’t many officers that survive a shooting like this and then just put the gun belt on the following day. This has a profound effect," he said.

“When we put on the badge and the gun in the morning, it’s not what you’re expecting to do. You know, it might be part of the job but you’re not going to work expecting to be in a shootout.”

Colligan said it’s important for all  NewJersey residents to remember cops have an extremely stressful job.

“Are there bad apples? There’s always bad apples but I haven’t met the officer that wasn’t dedicated and really wanted to go to work every day and make a difference in the community," he said.

“We are not the enemy. There’s nothing sexy about what we do. There’s nothing fun to watch about what we do. But we do it and hopefully we recover. Unfortunately, this officer won’t.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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