Jersey City Shooting Attackers Were Prime Suspects In Uber Driver's Murder

WCBS 880 Newsroom
December 11, 2019 - 4:49 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (WCBS 880) — The civilians killed in a massive shootout in Jersey City Tuesday afternoon have been identified and officials have revealed more information about the shooters who officials say were the prime suspects in the murder of an Uber driver, killed days before the bloodshed at a kosher market.

According to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, 32-year-old Mindy Ferenz, 49-year-old Miguel Douglas and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch were all killed inside the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive.

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The three were innocent bystanders that were caught in the crossfire when a massive shootout  broke out after two suspects – 47-year-old David Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham – moved into the store after fleeing a cemetery about a mile away, where Detective Joseph Seals was shot in the head and killed.

Mayor Steven Fulop says the two heavily-armed attackers were seen on CCTV footage driving a stolen van to the store and seemed to have deliberately chosen the supermarket.

"It was a targeted attack," Fulop said. "We could see the van moving through Jersey City street slowly. The perpetrators stopped in front of there, calmly opened the door with two long rifles. Him, and the other perpetrator, and began firing from the street into the facility."

Footage posted to Twitter showed the two suspects pull up in the van outside of the market, exit the vehicle and walk into the store while pointing their weapons as terrified bystanders run for safety.

Anderson started firing immediately, Grewal said.

Ferenz, Douglas and Deutsch were all killed in the attack and a fourth, unnamed bystander was able to flee the store to safety, the attorney general said.

Public Safety Director James Shea said there were other targets on the street that the attackers bypassed.

"It was clearly that was their target and they intended to harm people inside," Shea said.

No motive has been revealed for the shooting, but in a press conference Wednesday, AG Grewal said the attackers are believed to be responsible for the killing of an Uber driver in Bayonne.

Police said the man, identified as 34-year-old Michael Rumberger of Jersey City, was found beaten to death in the trunk of a vehicle on Saturday night. He had head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, following the shooting, police also uncovered a "pipe bomb improvised explosive device" about a mile away from the supermarket in the van that is believed to have been stolen by the suspects. The FBI described it as viable, meaning it could be a device that would have exploded.

Shea said terrorism was not suspected and it remains unclear if Anderson and Graham targeted Jews.

Fears are mounting that the shooting was an anti-Semitic attack, but Grewal said the motive remains under investigation. 

A law enforcement official anonymously told the Associated Press that authorities are investigating potential connections between the attackers and the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, some of whose members are known for their fierce condemnations of white and Jewish people.

"We know that there are significant speculation about the shooters' motives, we're not in the position at this time to say definitively why the suspects decided to stop in front of the supermarket and begin firing immediately," Grewal said.

But moments after Grewal's announcement, Fulop said, "There's no question that this is a hate crime and anti-Semitism should be called out aggressively and firmly immediately for what it is."

"We know that they bypassed targets immediately near the store, we know that they took out long rifles across the street after selecting this location and coming here, we know that they fired aggressively into that place," Fulop said, adding that his mind was made up by the facts.

As WCBS 880's Kevin Rincon reports, there were anti-Semitic posts linked to the suspects found on Facebook.

RELATED: Jersey City Shootout Leaves 6 Dead, Including Police Officer

Officials say the quick work of responding officers prevented the shooting from escalating even further, but it still is unclear as to how the shooting progressed.

"We now know this did not begin with gunfire between police officers and the perpetrators and then move to the store," Shea said. "It began with an attack on the civilians in the store and then our officers who were posted a block away immediately responded to the sound of the gunfire."

Mayor Fulop adds that if foot patrol officers had not responded within seconds to the sound of gunfire, it’s possible more people would have died.

"Without that response immediately from those police officers, immediately and heroically, I believe the streets were filled with people and the schools surrounding were filled with people. With the amount of ammunition they had we have to assume they would have continued attacking human beings if we hadn't been there," Fulop said.

Police arrived at the scene at 12:43 p.m. and a lengthy shootout followed. At 3:25 p.m. a police armored vehicle broke through the entryway of the supermarket, where Anderson and Graham were found dead. 

Volunteer EMT Morty Rubin believes the gunmen, if not cornered by police, would have moved onto the synagogue next door, where 40 kids under the age of 7 were upstairs in a daycare.

"We don't want to imagine what would have happened if they would have made their way up," he told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

Evan Bernstein, the regional director at the Anti-Defamation League, visited the grim scene seeking answers for the shaken community.

"Because the Jewish community across this country cannot handle this kind of normalization. We've seen normalization of assaults in Brooklyn. We've seen normalization now beginning happening in schools, we cannot have normalization of killing of Jews in this country," he said.

Officials note the only GoFundMe page that has been established is to support to family of Det. Seats, who joined the Jersey City Police Department in 2006, was killed while trying to stop some "bad guys" near the cemetery.

He was assigned to the Cease Fire Unit and was a leading police officer in removing guns off the street. Seals was a husband and father of five.

There are bullet holes in the window of the Sacred Heart School across the street from the kosher market.

Crossing guard May Gancy said the children and staff hid in closets when the gunfire broke out.

"The kids, you know, the kids could hear all the shooting and, you know, hear the gun shots and I know they was devastated and stuff, so thank God everybody in the school was fine," she said.

The school is closed Wednesday.

Gancy said the neighborhood has seen its share of violence, but never anything like this. She said last year she had to run into the school building after a gang shooting broke out on the street corner.

The low-income neighborhood known as "The Hill" on Jersey City's south side has become home to about 100 Hasidic families, many from Brooklyn driven out by high housing costs.