Shooters in Jersey City massacre were suspects in another homicide
JERSEY CITY — The armed couple who authorities said killed a city police officer on Tuesday before slaughtering three people at a Jewish market were the "prime suspects" in another homicide this weekend.
The latest detail in the shooting spree comes as surveillance footage surfaces showing the beginning of the attack at the JC Kosher Supermarket, where five people — including the two suspects — died.
News of the events have come to light in a frantic and confusing pace because shootings took place in two locations in the city. At first, police did not know that the shooting of Detective Joseph Seals, 39, was related to the shooting at the market. On Wednesday, the case took another turn when authorities confirmed that the suspects were involved in a separate homicide days earlier.
State officials also have been reluctant to explain why the shooting took place even as Mayor Steven Fulop on Wednesday came out and said that there is "no question that this is a hate crime."
Fulop, who is Jewish and whose maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust, held a separate news conference on Wednesday to say that there "is no question this was an attack on the Jewish community."
"It needs to be called out aggressively and called out quickly," he said.
The attackers were identified Wednesday as David Anderson, 47, who has an extensive criminal record, and Francine Graham, 50. Both were killed Tuesday afternoon in a shootout with police at the market. Bullets from the gunmen riddled Sacred Heart school across the street.
In addition to the bloody mayhem on Tuesday, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Wednesday that Anderson and Graham were "prime suspects" in the killing of 34-year-old Jersey City resident Michael Rumberger, whose body was found by Bayonne police Saturday night stuffed in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car.
According to state court records, Anderson was sentenced to five years in prison in 2011 after pleading guilty to third-degree weapons offenses from a 2007 arrest that also involved drugs. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2004 after pleading guilty to 2003 weapons offenses. In Ohio, he was charged in 2009 with domestic violence, which was pleaded down to criminal mischief.
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon with the FBI leader in Newark and the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Grewal declined to provide a motive for the shootings.
On Tuesday, Mayor Steven Fulop described the attack as "targeted," citing surveillance video showing the Anderson and Graham pulling up in a U-Haul truck, in which the FBI later found a working pipe bomb.
Fulop said that the van slowly made its way to the neighborhood, indicating that it was planned. He also said, without elaborating, that he had seen anti-Semitic content connected to the suspects online.
Surveillance video shows Anderson come out of the driver's side of the van, parked across the street from the store, and beginning to fire his rifle at the store from the middle of the street.
Several pedestrians were in front of the store when Anderson began opening fire. Graham follows him into the store and a man escapes, the video below shows.
Officials said the pair killed the wife of the store's owner, Mindy Ferencz, 32, along with Moshe Deutsch, 24, and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49.
NBC 4 New York, citing law enforcement sources, said Anderson was a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelites, a sect of black people who believe that they, and not Jews, are the descendants of ancient Israelites. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described it as a black supremacist hate group.
Grewal declined to comment on this report, saying that the press and the public needed to be patient and wait for confirmed information in order to avoid causing "unnecessary panic in the community" and "undermine the integrity of the investigation." FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie also urged patience.
The investigation into the shooting is being handled by the state working with federal investigators and prosecutors.
The investigation into the Bayonne homicide is being handled by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.
The body of Rumberger was found about 9:55 p.m. Saturday in the car on 17th Street at John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Bayonne. Investigators said Rumberger had head trauma.
Grewal said that the pair pulled up to the store on Martin Luther King Boulevard about 12:21 p.m.
Moments earlier, the two had shot and killed Seals at the Bayview Cemetery about a mile away on Garfield Avenue. Authorities have not said how Seals came upon the two at the cemetery but police have confirmed that homicide had been searching for a vehicle that matched that description.
At 12:38 p.m., police received a 911 call from someone who had found Seals at the cemetery.
Meanwhile, police were already responding to the kosher market. Police began their shootout with the suspects about 12:43 p.m. At 3.25 p.m., police broke into the supermarket using an armored vehicle and at 3:47 p.m. they discovered the bodies, Grewal said.
While Grewal and Gov. Phil Murphy stopped short of ascribing motives to the killings, they said that the state stood against any acts of hate.
Murphy said that an attack on any community "is an attack against all 9 million of us who are proud to call ourselves New Jerseyans. Period."
Murphy said that he and the Israeli consul general had prayed together Wednesday morning in the synagogue next to the market.
Grewal, who was born in Jersey City, pointed out that the kosher market and synagogue was across the street from a Catholic school on a street named after the famed civil rights leader in a neighborhood with other ethnic shops.
"Jersey City is an American city and a city that reflects the values and strength of our nation and the state we call home. Yesterday that city came under attack," Grewal said, adding that the state would respond by "coming together and working together and grieving together and by showing that we are stronger than the hate that fueled this terrible tragedy."
The kosher market is in the Greenville section of Jersey City, located on the border with Bayonne. The neighborhood in recent years has seen an influx of Orthodox Jewish families, many from Brooklyn. The kosher shop was the only one of its kind in the city.
Greenville is home to more than 66,000 people, about half of whom are black, about a quarter are Hispanic and another 10% are Filipino, according to the most recent Census data.
During Fulop's news conference on Wednesday, Councilwoman Joyce Watterman said the attack was aberration.
"We have always been welcoming and we will continue to be welcoming," she said.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email email@example.com.