A pair of armed people targeted a New Jersey kosher grocery in an attack that killed six people including the shooters, though the motive of the attack remains unclear, public safety officials said on Wednesday.
A police shootout with two people armed with high-powered rifles erupted after midday on Tuesday in Jersey City, New Jersey’s second-largest municipality, directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The six dead included three civilians, one police officer and both shooters, authorities said.
The four-hour gun battle at the Jewish JC Kosher Supermarket erupted after the pair shot the police officer at a nearby cemetery, which they fled in a white van.
“They exited the van and they proceeded to attack this location in a targeted manner,” Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea told a morning news conference. “That was their target and they intended to harm people inside it … 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 did not comment on why the grocery was targeted but said the shooters appeared to choose it rather than other people or locations on the street. Police declined to release the names or genders of the shooters.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop ordered police to be on high alert to protect Jewish neighborhoods following the attack.
“Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead,” Fulop wrote. “We have no indication there are any further threat(s).”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that while there was no known specific threat to that city, he had placed city police on high alert to protect Jewish residents.
“Tonight NYPD assets are being deployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Tomorrow we will announce additional measures,” he said late Tuesday.
Police had said earlier on Tuesday they believed the kosher grocery was randomly singled out by the shooters.
Some local media reported the initial confrontation between the suspects and police near the Jersey City cemetery, about a mile away from the supermarket, was linked to a previous homicide investigation.
The dead police officer was shot at the cemetery shortly before the shootout around the grocery began.
A police bomb squad was also investigating a possible explosive found in the stolen U-Haul vehicle the gunmen drove.