The deadly shooting at a New Jersey kosher supermarket on Tuesday drew condemnations from leaders in Israel, the US and the American Jewish community, while local officials announced heightened protection for Jewish institutions.
“On behalf of the people of Israel, I extend my condolences of the families of Leah Mindel Ferencz, Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, police officer Joe Seals and the other victims of the murderous attack in Jersey City,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted after the attack.
Though they initially ruled out a terror attack, investigators later said they believed the two gunmen who shot and killed a cop in a Jersey City cemetery, then drove to a kosher supermarket and began an hour-long gunbattle that left three Jewish bystanders and themselves dead, had deliberately targeted the Jewish shop.
“Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said late Tuesday, without elaborating.
Next to the store, the only kosher supermarket in the area and a central fixture for the growing community, are a yeshiva and a synagogue. Around 100 Jewish families live in the area in the city’s Greenville neighborhood, with most of the families having moved there from Brooklyn in the last few years.
Authorities have not released information on the victims, but Chabad identified two of the dead as store owner Leah Minda Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, both members of the local Hasidic community.
The third victim was also believed to be a member of the local Jewish community.
Officials did not name the gunmen, but local reports said they were a man and woman in their late 40s. According to local media, the two were heavily armed and driving a stolen U-Haul van. They fled an encounter with police toward the only kosher supermarket in town and shot an ultra-Orthodox man in the street as they ran into the store, triggering the hour-long gunbattle with police outside.
In response to the attack, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, noting his counterpart’s assertion that the gunmen had targeted the Jewish supermarket, placed the NYPD on high alert and announced special protection for “key locations” in the city’s Jewish community, the largest in the nation.
“This tragically confirms that a growing pattern of violent anti-Semitism has now turned into a crisis for our nation. And now this threat has reached the doorstep of New York City,” de Blasio said in a statement.
“Although there is no credible or specific threat directed against New York City, I have directed the NYPD to assume a state of high alert. Tonight, NYPD assets are being redeployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Tomorrow, we will announce additional measures. History teaches us how dangerous it is to ignore this kind of hateful pattern. We must stop anti-Semitism aggressively and decisively, and I call upon all New Yorkers to join in rooting out this threat,” de Blasio said.