Jersey City shooting Suspect Linked to Black Hebrew Israelite movement

A suspect involved in a shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, that killed six people at a kosher grocery store on Tuesday reportedly had a connection to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

The two suspects involved in the shooting, who were killed at the scene, have been identified by law enforcement officials as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50. Anderson was reportedly a one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite, according to NBC News. The movement is a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Anderson also had posted anti-Semitic and anti-police posts on social media. A note with religious writing was also found in the van the suspects were using during the attack, according to the news station.

What We Know About the Shooting

  • Authorities said during a press conference on Tuesday night that the shooting began that afternoon at Bay View Cemetery in Jersey City, New Jersey.

  • Detective Joe Seals, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, was shot and killed by the suspects before they took off to the grocery store in a stolen U-Haul van.

  • Chief of Police Michael Kelly said during a press conference on Tuesday the department received a call of gunshots at the grocery store located on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City. Kelly said once units arrived, they were “immediately engaged by high-powered rifle power” and said, “officers were under gunfire for hours.” Two officers were wounded by the gunfire.

  • Three people inside of the JC Kosher Supermarket were killed during the shooting, attorney general Gurbir Grewal said during a press conference on Wednesday. Three of the victims have been identified as 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, 49-year-old Miguel Douglas, and 32-year-old Mindy Ferenz. Another person shopping in the store suffered a gunshot wound but survived, Grewal said.

  • Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop wrote on Twitter that the closed-circuit TV system showed that the shooters targeted the grocery store. During a press conference on Wednesday, Fulop said the footage showed that the van was slowly moving throughout the city and the shooters opened the door in front of the store with two rifles and opened fire.

  • Public Safety Director James Shea said at a press conference on Wednesday, "There were multiple other people on the streets. There were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place. So it was, clearly, that was their target, and they intended to harm people inside there."

  • In addition to the note found in the stolen U-Haul van, law enforcement officials said during a press conference on Wednesday they discovered a pipe bomb.

What is the Black Hebrew Israelite Movement

The SPLC states that the Black Hebrew Israelite movement is part of a Black nationalist movement. The center states that “most forms of black nationalism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic.”

“Black nationalists, however, should not be confused with the many non-racist African-American organizations that work for social justice and the elimination of institutional racism in America. In addition, they should not be seen as equivalent to white supremacist groups – such as the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis – in terms of their history of violence and terrorism,” the center wrote. “And, unlike white hate groups, they have made virtually no inroads into the mainstream political realm and have virtually no supporters among elected officials.”

The movement of the Black Hebrew Israelites has varying beliefs among different types of groups. The New York Times writes that “Followers reject the notion of race, and instead believe that the 12 tribes of Israel defined in the Old Testament are different ethnic groups, or nations, and that whites are not among them.”

Heidi Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project at the SPLC told The Times the groups are anti-semitic and “they call them sometimes devilish impostors or devils, because they think of themselves as the true Israelites.” Beirich also told the publication that “the group is not known for committing mass acts of violence”

What They’re Saying

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy:

“One thing must be made perfectly clear: an attack on our Jewish community or for that matter on any community in what is by many measures the most diverse state in the United States of America, in whether that attack may be here in Jersey City or anywhere in our state, that attack is an attack against all nine million of us who are proud to call ourselves New Jerseyans,” Murphy said during Wednesday’s press conference.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop on

Twitter:

“This was a hate crime against Jewish ppl [and] hate has no place. The video is clear that the drivers drove to that location, the video is clear that the shooters bypassed potential targets near the store, the video is clear that the drivers bypassed potential targets driving to the store, it is also clear they chose a Jewish Grocery store next to a yeshiva after driving to that location, it is also clear that they began shooting into the store from across the street, it is also clear that the shooters have indicated on social media favorable sentiment towards groups that show antisemitism. It is also clear that there was a pipe bomb in the vehicle showing an intent to hurt many more ppl. We shouldn’t parse words.”

“To stop hate [and] anti-semitism we need to call it out QUICKLY for what it is. Some will say don’t call it anti-semitism or a hate crime till a longer review but being Jewish myself [and] the grandson of holocaust survivors I know enough to call it what this is.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio:

“We feel a lot of pain, but we have to understand why this is a moment of urgency. This confirms the sad truth there is a crisis of anti-Semitism gripping this nation. There is a crisis of anti-semitism in this city. It is continued to take on more and more violent form all over this country. Now we have seen this extraordinarily, extreme, form of violence reached the doorstep of New York City and we have to take that as a warning sign.”

New Jersey Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Cory Booker on

Twitter:

“We won't be silent in the face of bigotry & hate. Sending love & prayers to the victims, their families, our Jewish neighbors & the JCPD.”

What Now

Following the incident, organizations are taking a stand against antisemitism. Ronald S. Lauer, the Founder of the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project (ASAP) called the shooting “horrendous” and said now was the time to hold elected officials accountable.

“The horrendous attack in Jersey City is yet another glaring example of how Jews are being violently targeted across the United States. It’s time to hold elected officials accountable: if you enable anti-Semitism or fail to take it seriously, we will see to it that you lose reelection. We will see to it before other communities become memorials. Looking the other way never has – and never will – end well,” he said in a statement.

The 2018 FBI Hate Crime Datafound that 60 percent of hate crime attacks were targeted against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018, despite the eight percent decrease of religion-based hate crimes from 2017.

“It is unacceptable that Jews and Jewish institutions continue to be at the center of religion-based hate crime attacks,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a previous statement. “We need to take concrete action to address and combat this significant problem. We strongly urge Congress to immediately pass the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act. By improving hate crime training, prevention, best practices, and data collection, we can stem hate crimes nationwide.”


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.