Thousands Bid Final Farewell To Fallen Jersey City Det. Joe Seals

Marla Diamond
December 17, 2019 - 3:01 pm
Detective Joseph Seals Funeral

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Thousands of people lined up in the cold December rain on Tuesday to bid a final farewell to fallen Jersey City Detective Joe Seals, who was killed in the line of duty last week during a massive shootout in Jersey City.

The detective's wife and their five children followed the flag-draped coffin out of Saint Aedan’s Church on Bergen Avenue as hundreds of Jersey City police officers stood outside the church in silent salute, their dress blue jackets dripping with rain. 

Seals' son, dressed like his dad in a police uniform, saluted the coffin as "Taps" was played.

Detective Joseph Seals  funeral
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The 40-year-old detective was born in Jersey City and lived there before moving to Bayonne. 

He was a local kid who grew up wanting to be a cop. He became a police officer in 2006 and was promoted to detective in 2017.

"He was a great guy. We grew up next to each other in the heights of Jersey City," said Justin Smith, a Jersey City firefighter and Seals' cousin. "He was always a prankster and he was a great street cop. He knew the city, he loved doing what he did."

"It's been devastating," said Jersey City resident Rose Parez. "Yesterday I went to the wake. I met his 12-year-old son. And as a retired teacher I just had to say to him your dad is a hero."

A wake was held Wednesday and, according to WCBS 880’s Kevin Rincon, the line stretched the entire length of the block as dozens and dozens came to pay their respects.

"It’s an incredible opportunity to show appreciation and admiration for the detective and his dedication to all Americans,” said one mourner.

Seals was killed last week at Bayview Cemetery while confronting the two suspects who later terrorized a Jewish grocery store a mile away, where the gunmen killed three civilians.

Authorities haven't disclosed why Seals was at the location or what happened during the confrontation. 

“Part of the attack which was directed specifically against Jews is really an attack against all Jews and we feel that pain together and we feel the appreciation to law enforcement that give their lives to protect us and all Americans,” said Rabbi Kenny Schiowitz.

RELATED: What We Know About The Jersey City Shooting Victims

Seals was part of the department's Cease Fire Unit and his job was to get guns off the street.

The detective is survived by his wife and five children.

"They're grieving, they're coping and they're taking their time and they're processing everything," Smith said. "She has five children to take care of, so it's  a lot."

Neighboring police departments volunteered to handle patrols in Jersey City during the funeral as the city grieves.

"Hoboken will be here. Union City will be here. Bayonne will be here. North Bergen will be here. So, you know, we're thankful. It's a team effort and we're all in this together and we're just doing our best," Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said.