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Jersey City Jewish market shooting suspect linked to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement; security footage shows attack was 'targeted'

One suspect published anti-Semitic posts online

Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/Afp/AFP via Getty Images

The Jersey City shootout at a local Jewish market that left one police officer and three bystanders dead Tuesday was a "targeted" attack, officials confirmed Wednesday morning, and one of the alleged assailants has been linked to Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

What are the details?

The two suspected attackers — whose names have not been officially released by the police — were killed by police in the shootout and were likely motivated by anti-Semitic hatred, according to authorities.

The New York Times reported that one of the attackers had published anti-Semitic and anti-police posts online prior to the rampage and that law enforcement believes those sentiments motivated the attack.

Investigators also found a manifesto-style note and a live pipe bomb inside the reported attackers' van.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said after reviewing security footage, it has become "clear" that the attack on the Jewish market was "targeted."

James Shea, the city's director of public safety, along with Fulop, noted that the security footage showed the attackers exiting the van and walking past others on the street before entering the Jewish market and opening fire on the people inside.

Shea noted that were it not for a quick response by two nearby foot-patrol officers, the attack could've been more deadly.

"With the amount of ammunition they had, we have to assume they would have continued attacking human beings if we hadn't been there," he said according to ABC News.

More on the alleged attackers

WNBC-TV, which is reporting the identities of the suspected attackers, said the male alleged shooter was at one time a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a Black American group whose members believe they are descendants of ancient Israel but who often mix Christian and Judaic beliefs. Historically, they are not recognized as Jews by members of the Jewish community.

The female suspect may have been a home health aide in Manhattan before meeting the other shooter. An anonymous neighbor told NBC New York that the woman turned into a "dark person" after they met.

The neighbor also claimed that the female suspect was "coerced into a militant religion he could not identify" and that "chanting and reading of the New Testament, translated into 'evil,' could be heard from her home."

According to court documents, the male suspect had a criminal record. He faced weapon charges in 2004, 2007, and 2011 and spent time in jail.

It should be noted that officials have not confirmed these details nor explicitly labeled the attack as a hate crime as of yet.

What about the reports of a shooting at a cemetery?

Initial reports on the active shooting situation Tuesday afternoon indicated that the shootout began at a nearby cemetery before moving to the market, but details have become murky.

In their news conference Wednesday morning, Folup and Shea did not comment on reports that the cemetery shooting was connected to the market shooting.

"Having had an opportunity to go through the video overnight, we now know this did not begin with gunfire between police officers and the perpetrators and then move to the store. It began with an attack on civilians in the store," Shea said Wednesday.

However, a law enforcement official has said that the shootout did indeed start in the cemetery where Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals approached the suspects in a U-Haul van. According to the New York Times, surveillance footage shows the attackers shooting Seals before driving to the Jewish market and opening fire.

Seals, 40, was a 15-year police veteran who rose to the rank of detective at the Jersey City Police Department in 2017. He is survived by his wife and five children, the youngest of which is just 2 years old.

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.

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