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Authorities Say They Haven't Identified A Motive In Jersey City Shooting


We're learning new details about the shootings in Jersey City, N.J., yesterday. After shooting a police detective at a nearby cemetery, a pair of attackers engaged in hours of gunfire with police at a kosher deli. In the end, six people are dead, including the officer and the two people officials say are responsible for the mass shooting.

Quil Lawrence joins us from Jersey City. Quil, what have you learned so far?

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Well, we learned at a press conference with the attorney general mostly some basic facts - confirmed that a man, who was 47, and a woman, 50, apparently gunned down the Jersey City Police detective Joseph Seals after he approached their U-Haul van, which had been IDed (ph) as connected to a murder on Sunday. The two attackers then drove a mile to a kosher grocery store next to a Jewish center, and they went in shooting. There was a two-hour intense gunfight, which left both attackers and three civilians dead inside.

CORNISH: We've heard conflicting things about the motive for this attack. What is the status of that right now? What do people know?

LAWRENCE: Well, the attackers reportedly had posted on social media supporting anti-Semitic groups. But the attorney general was very careful not to characterize a motive. He was very cautious about it. The mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, however, gave a press conference right afterwards at the scene of the crime to reiterate his conclusion from a very personal perspective that this is a hate crime against Jews.


STEVEN FULOP: I'm Jewish. I'm the grandson of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to this country because it's a place of tolerance. And like I said, we need to be aggressive in calling it out for what it is. I know some people will say that we should review things and take our time. But when you look at the facts of what transpired yesterday, it's difficult to argue anything other than that.

CORNISH: I want to focus a little bit on the victims here. Can you tell us more about them?

LAWRENCE: We don't know a lot. Mindel Ferencz was 32. She was a wife and mother. She and her husband ran this kosher grocery store and deli. And he - her husband - had stepped out next door for a midday prayer, so he wasn't there when the attack happened. Moshe Deutsch, 24 years old - locals have described him as a yeshiva student. Apparently, he was just in there as a customer, got caught when the gunmen entered. And Miguel Douglas, 49 - now, we're not sure about that name. The attorney general reported that name, but we've heard others. Residents told me that he delivered groceries for the store. And another man was inside, was shot and escaped out the back. He hasn't been publicly identified yet.

CORNISH: We can hear a little bit of the noise behind you. And I know you've spent the day in the neighborhood. Can you describe this area and also maybe how residents are reacting to what they're learning today?

LAWRENCE: Yeah. You might be able to hear the music. I stepped into a little Dominican diner down the street from a synagogue and across the - which is across the street from a Catholic school. It's a very diverse city. I wouldn't say it's fully blended. You can feel that there are many different groups living here. They told me that they're good neighbors. There's some tension as gentrification has hit, and the Jewish community is growing here. They've moved after being priced out of parts of Brooklyn. But this ward - city Councilman Jermaine Robinson is a lifelong resident of this town. And here's what he said this afternoon.


JERMAINE ROBINSON: My heart goes out to all of the victims, the police and our Jewish community, our brothers, in this fight here. A great leader once said hate can't drive out hate; only love can do that - and, I think, broad (ph) efforts of resilient community.

LAWRENCE: And he was talking - he noted that we were all standing there on the street across from the crime scene on a street named Martin Luther King Drive. But I think it's fair to say everyone here is still in shock. And talking to Jewish residents in particular in this case and, really, people who come from other communities and across the country - they're wondering, you know, where there might be another attack against Jewish Americans again.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Quil Lawrence.

Thank you for your reporting.

LAWRENCE: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.