Police Say New Jersey Shooting Kicked Off After Anti-Gun Police Unit Approached Stolen Van [UPDATED]

Chris Menahan
Dec. 10, 2019

UPDATE: Police say the shooting started after a police unit "responsible for removing guns from the street" approached several suspects in a stolen van who were heavily armed.

From CBS New York, "Jersey City Shootout: 6 Dead Including Police Detective, 2 Suspects, 3 Civilians":
A police officer was among six killed in a lengthy gun battle in Jersey City Tuesday.

The two suspects were also killed, along with three civilians. Their bodies were found in a kosher grocery store at Bayview Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard after an intense, hours-long shootout with police. Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said police believe the three civilians killed in the grocery store were shot by the suspects.

It began at roughly 12:30 p.m. at the Bay View cemetery at Garfield Avenue. The suspects were spotted at the cemetery in a stolen rental van. Kelly said he believes Det. Joseph Seals – who was part of the unit responsible for removing guns from the street – was attempting to interdict weapons in the van when he approached the suspects, and they opened fire.

[...] The suspects then drove about a mile to the grocery store in the middle of a residential neighborhood, where more shots were fired.
*Updated story below*

From The Forward, "Three Jews, One Officer Killed Inside Jersey City Kosher Grocery Store During Shootout: Hatzolah":
Three members of a small Jewish community and a cherished police officer were killed on Tuesday afternoon in addition to two suspects during a protracted shootout at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey. Witnesses said hundreds of bullets exchanged between shooters and police over more than three hours in a residential area chosen as the new home of a fervently religious community priced out of Brooklyn.

“I must have heard over 300 shots. It was all hell at that point,” said Aaron, a volunteer with the Jewish EMS service, Hatzolah, who arrived on the scene at about 12:30 p.m. and witnessed most of the shooting in and around the JC Kosher Market at 223 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. The store serves as the de facto social center of an embryonic Hasidic community in the town just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

Jersey City police had “no inkling” as to motive, said Police Chief Michael Kelly at a 5:30 p.m. press conference. He did say there was no indication that the shooting was a hate crime. Mayor Steven Fulop said in a different press conference that there was no evidence that the shooting was terrorism-related.

The investigation will take weeks and maybe months, and involves three different crime scenes in addition to a stolen U-Haul that contained an “incendiary device,” Kelly said.

The officer who died, Det. Joseph Seals, was a father of five lauded by Kelly as “our leading police officer in removing guns from the street.”

Initial reports described the incident as the result of a confrontation between undercover police and the shooters related to a drug deal, according to the local ABC affiliate, which cited the police department’s “working theory.”
"The Israeli consul general, Dani Dayan, reported in a tweet that his sources don't believe the shooting was part of a hate crime," the Foward reported.

More from WABC:
The slain officer, identified as Detective Joseph Seals, was a 13-year veteran, husband, and father of five.

"It's a really tough day for the city of Jersey City," Mayor Steven Fulop said. "Even more than being a police officer that loved Jersey City, that was probably responsible for or one of the leading officers for the most guns getting off the street, from what I understand, he was also a husband and a father of five children."

Authorities say the incident started at Bay View Cemetery just after noon, with Seals, 40, fatally shot and a second officer wounded in the shoulder, and was possibly related to a drug or gun deal gone bad

[...] Law enforcement sources say it was not just a drug deal involved as initially suspected, but Det. Seals may have been interested in the two suspects who ultimately shot and killed him because of a weekend homicide.
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