This is a developing story. The Forward has a reporter on the scene.
Five Jews and a cherished police officer were killed in addition to two suspects during a protracted shootout at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, that saw hundreds of bullets exchanged between possible drug suspects and police over a period of at least three hours in a residential area chosen as the new home of a fervently religious Jewish community priced out of Brooklyn.
The Jews who were killed were all under the age of forty, according to a member of a Jewish first responder team who asked to remain anonymous because he wasn’t authorized to release information, the Forward has learned on the scene.
“It’s five of our community, so it’s really sad,” said Aaron, another volunteer with the Jewish EMS service, Hatzolah, who witnessed most of the shooting in and near the JC Grocery, a kosher mart at 223 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. “I must have heard over 300 shots. It was all hell at that point.”
The shootout between possible drug suspects and police took place near a set of adjoining buildings that serves as the de facto social center of a small, new Hasidic community in the town just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It was the result of a confrontation between undercover police and the shooters related to a drug deal, said the ABC affiliate, citing the police department’s “working theory.” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a brief press conference that there were no indications that the shooting was terrorism-related, citing police sources.
The grocery store sits next to a study hall, the Greenville Beis Midrash, also known as the Grenville Shul, and near an affiliated yeshiva. The area around the store is the home of about 70 families, Yiddish-speaking Hasidic Jews priced out of Brooklyn, according to an article posted on JC.com about a year ago. The community includes members of the Satmar and Bobov sects, as well as others.
The store sells basic groceries, but not meat, said a bystander who has lived in the neighborhood for about a year and said he moved there because Brooklyn had become unaffordable. It’s the place where people tend to stop and chat during the day.
Owned by Moishe Ferencz, the grocery store has been in operation since July of 2017, according to incorporation documents filed with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
By about 4:30 p.m., the 40 students in the yeshiva were being evacuated, according to a Yiddish-language tweet from a community member.
The video below was taken by one of the yeshiva staff from the window of one of the classrooms; children in the background can be heard becoming increasingly distressed.
Across the street is a Christian school, Sacred Heart. Every school in Jersey City was locked down; the lockdown was lifted at about 4:30 p.m.
According to the ABC affiliate, the shooting started at the nearby Bay View Cemetery, where at least one of the injured police officers was hurt.
The Israeli consul general, Dani Dayan, reported in a tweet that his sources don’t believe the shooting was part of a hate crime.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department, especially with the officers shot during this standoff, and with the residents and schoolchildren currently under lockdown,” said Gov.
Philip D. Murphy in a statement.
Videos posted on social media showed officers heading down Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive toward the store.
Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman
Jordan Kutzik contributed reporting and translation from Yiddish.