Officials: Suspect in Jersey City Shooting Targeted Kosher Supermarket | Sojourners

Officials: Suspect in Jersey City Shooting Targeted Kosher Supermarket

A picture of the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two men around a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 11, 2019. Image courtesy REUTERS/Lloyd Mitchell.

One of the two suspects in a shooting in Jersey City, N.J., on Tuesday had previously posted anti-Semitic messages online and was linked to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

The series of events began when the assailants shot a police officer at a cemetery near the Jewish JC Kosher Supermarket, then fled in a white van, according to Reuters.

The assailants were then involved in a four-hour gun battle at the supermarket that ended in a police shootout. Six people died, including both shooters, a police officer, and three bystanders.

A law enforcement official said that one of the shooters had posted anti-Semitic statements online and was linked to the Black Hebrew Israelites, a movement with no ties to mainstream Judaism that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group, the New York Times reports. The Black Hebrew Israelites claim to be descendants of the ancient Israelites and are an offshoot of a broader religious movement scholars often call Black Israelism, which dates back to slavery and Reconstruction, according to Vox. The extent to which the shooter is involved in the group remains unclear.

The law enforcement official also stated that a manifesto-style document was found in the shooters’ van, the Times reports. The note was described as “rambling” and didn’t suggest a motivation behind the shooters’ actions. A live pipe bomb was also found inside the van.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop told reporters that the shooters had targeted the supermarket based on surveillance footage, but a law enforcement source told Reuters that the attack is not being considered an act of organized terrorism in the eyes of U.S. federal investigators. Local media outlets initially reported that the confrontation in the nearby cemetery prior to the attack on the supermarket was linked to a previous homicide investigation.