The two people who fatally shot a police officer then killed three peoplelast month planned an assault for some time and were equipped to cause even greater destruction, authorities said Monday. State and federal law enforcement officials revealed details about the months leading up to the shootings by David Anderson and Francine Graham, a couple who expressed hatred of Jews and law enforcement in notes left at the shooting scene and in online posts.
Anderson, 47, and Graham, 50, shot and killed Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals in a chance meeting in a cemetery December 10, then drove to the market and killed Mindel Ferencz, 31, who owned the store with her husband; Moshe Deutsch, 24, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there; and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez.
Rodriguez held the back door openbefore he was shot, authorities said Monday.
Five weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were found in the store afterward. Investigators also found a bomb in the couple’s van that could have sprayed shrapnel fragments “five football fields long,” said Gregory Ehrie, special agent in charge of the FBI in Newark.
“So it could have, if it exploded in the right place, could’ve certainly injured and killed people up to five football fields away,” Ehrie said.
The van also contained materials that could have made a second bomb, he said. Also found in the van was a shopping list for tactical items and notes on how to shoot rifles long distances, CBS New York reports. The five weapons were purchased in Ohio in March 2018, the station reports, and Anderson and Graham practiced shooting at a gun range in December.
Speaking Monday, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said it’s possible the couple planned to target more victims.
“This was nothing but a senseless, evil, cowardly act of anti-Semitism and hatred towards not just the Jewish community, but also law enforcement,” Carpenito said. “Anderson and Graham both targeted Jewish victims and law enforcement, and we know now that they planned greater acts of mayhem against both communities.”
The U.S. attorney’s office said it is confident Anderson and Graham worked alone and had no other co-conspirators, reports CBS New York.
It’s not known for certain what prompted the confrontation between Seals and the shooters. Officials speculated that Seals, a 13-year police veteran who was meeting someone about returning a car that had been impounded, may have stopped the U-Haul van Anderson and Graham were driving because it fit the description of a vehicle connected to the slaying of a livery car driver in Bayonne a few days earlier.
In doing so, Seals may have thrown off their plans and prevented more bloodshed, Carpenito said.
“As best we can speculate, the reason that bomb was not used and there was not an attack on a broader audience is because they were thrown into action with the murder of Detective Seals,” Carpenito said.
Anderson and Graham bludgeoned and then shot the livery driver Michael Rumberger, 34, officials said, though it wasn’t clear if he had been targeted. The pair also had done online research on a Jewish center in nearby Bayonne in the days before the attack in Jersey City, Carpenito said.
Barricaded in the kosher store, Anderson and Graham were killed after a lengthy gun battle with the police that sent the sound of gunfire booming for hours through the neighborhood in New Jersey’s second-largest city, across the street from a school.
A gun recovered at the store matched the one used by Anderson and Graham to kill Rumberger, and that same gun also had been used to shoot out the windows of a car driven by a Hasidic man on a highway near Jersey City, the investigation revealed. That man was not injured, and the incident wasn’t reported to police until investigators began probing the the market shootings.
“Up until the attack, there wasn’t anything that would have put either of them on anybody’s radar,” Ehrie said.
But surveillance video showed Anderson and Graham had driven past the market in their rented U-Haul van twice in the week leading up to the shootings, Carpenito said.
At the scene, a note found on Anderson contained a reference to a 1990s documentary, “The FBI’s War on Black America,” which explored the FBI’s targeting of individuals involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Carpenito said. He added that a timestamp written on the note corresponded to a segment in the documentary where an interviewee advocates killing “fascist pig cops.”
Investigators found among Anderson’s social media posts a reference to Jews as “imposters who inhabited synagogues of Satan.”
Anderson received about $560 per month as a military veteran and may have sold property and a van to make money, officials said, but investigators have found no evidence he received outside assistance to purchase weapons or bomb-making materials.
First published on January 13, 2020 / 6:39 PM
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