JERSEY CITY, N.J. (WCBS 880) — A mother of three, an avid volunteer and an Ecuadorian immigrant are among the victims killed during a massive shootout in Jersey City Tuesday afternoon.
While the attack is not being classified as a hate crime or an act of terror, Mayor Steven Fulop was quick to denounce the killings as anti-Semitic.
“To stop hate and anti-Semitism we need to call it out quickly for what it is,” Fulop said on Twitter. “Some will say don’t call it anti-Semitism or a hate crime [until> a longer review, but being Jewish myself and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know enough to call it what this is.”
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is advising officials do not classify the incident in that way, but one day after one of the worst shootings in Jersey City’s history, the authorities are still struggling to piece together a motive.
Meanwhile, the Jewish community in the area continues to mourn the loss of two members and search for answers as to why a kosher supermarket was the target of such a violent attack.
Here is what we know about the victims:
Detective Joseph Seals
Joseph Seals, a 13-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, was gunned down by the suspects after confronting them in a cemetery before they drove a mile to the kosher market, where they killed three civilians and injured a fourth who was able to escape. The 40-year-old detective was a husband and father of five.
Police Chief Michael Kelly said he was responsible for taking more guns off the streets than almost any other officer on the force.
Mayor Fulop said the department lost one of their best.
"Officers in other precincts knew who he was because he was a good cop," Fulop said.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation will pay off the mortgage on Seals' home.
A GoFundMe page has also been created to help the detective's family.
A wake will be held Monday night at McLaughlin Funeral Home in Jersey City. Seal's funeral will be held Tuesday morning at St. Aedan’s Church.
Moshe Hirsch Deutsch
Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, 24, was the son of a well-known community leader in Williamsburg.
The rabbinical student was shopping at the store when the gunfire broke out.
Deutsch often volunteered with Chai Lifeline, a nonprofit that provides services to children diagnosed with cancer, life-threatening, or lifelong illness.
Leah Minda Ferencz, 33, co-owned the store with her husband. She was a mother of three children, ranging in age from 4 to 11.
Her husband was in the synagogue next door when the suspects entered the store.
Rabbi David Niederman said the Ferencz family had been among the first to move from Brooklyn to Jersey City, which has a budding Hasidic community.
"She was a lady full of love for others and unfortunately her life was cut so short," Niederman said.
"Here's a young couple who opened a grocery store to help the community and unfortunately terror hit home in a very sad and tragic way," Rabbi Moshe Shapiro of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center of Hoboken.
Douglas Miguel Rodriguez
Douglas Miguel Rodriguez was 49-years-old and was employed at the kosher market. He leaves behind a wife and 11-year-old daughter, according to the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn.
"Our hearts also goes out to the family of the late Douglas Miguel Rodriguez Barzola, who left behind a wife and 11 years old daughter," the UJO wrote. "He was butchered brutally while working in the store and providing for his family. May he rest in peace."
According to the UJO, Rodriguez was an immigrant from Ecuador and had only been employed at the store for a little over a year.