Francine Graham was named as one of the two suspected shooters authorities say shot and killed a veteran police detective and later murdered three civilians inside a kosher bodega in Jersey City, sparking a lengthy standoff that shut down the city’s schools and led to multiple wounded officers. The Jersey City mayor now says the kosher market was targeted. The other suspect has been identified as David Anderson. Anderson, 47, and Graham, 50, were identified by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Authorities said in a December 12, 2019 press conference that they are investigating the case as a domestic terrorism incident with a hate crime bent. They say that the shooters appear motivated by, in the words of the U.S. Attorney, “a bias toward both the Jewish community and law enforcement.” They also said that they’ve traced two of the guns used to purchases Graham made at gun stores in Ohio.
They “had a tremendous amount of firepower. They had a pipe bomb in their van,” the New Jersey Attorney General said. Of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, he said that “we have evidence both suspects expressed interest in this group” but they haven’t established definitive membership or anything more concrete.
The frightening sequence of events on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, started in a cemetery where Detective Joseph Seals was shot in the head, possibly while investigating a weekend homicide. It ended in the JC Kosher Supermarket, a store considered a hub in its Jewish neighborhood. Surveillance video showed the two suspects getting out of a stolen van wearing long black trench coats and carrying rifles, opening fire from the street as they approached the store.
Heavy.com has reviewed multiple posts made online by an identity that Anderson is believed to have used on the Internet; he made numerous extremely anti-police comments on various obscure social media and online video pages, glorified Baton Rouge police shooter Gavin Long, unleashed anti-Semitic and anti-Christian vitriol, and called non-black Jewish people “imposters.” NBC News first reported that law enforcement sources believe the identity – Dawad Maqabath and two others – were used by the shooter. The network explained that the same identity made a series of comments on the Internet. You can see screenshots of the posts located by Heavy.com here.
According to NBC News, Anderson’s social media pages included anti-police and anti-Semitic posts. The New York Times reports that along with guns and ammunition, police found a live pipe bomb in a U-Haul truck that Graham and Anderson were driving, along with a “manifesto-style note.” The Times reports the note was brief and “rambling,” but suggested no clear motive for the shootings.
According to NBC New York, Anderson “pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and praised past attacks on Jewish people in New York and killings of police officers,” in part using the social media handle “Dawada Maqabath.” Heavy has reviewed the Facebook page in that name, which is still up. What’s visible shows Biblical references, a cover photo of a lion, and selfies. NBC reports that the handle appears on other social platforms criticizing police in high-profile shootings, like those of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Michael Brown in Ferguson.
NBC also reports that the handle “describes growing up in a religious home and joining the army, before ‘years of dabbling with petty drug dealing and dead-end jobs, brief stints in jail and prison.’”
The only page “like” on the Maqabath Facebook page: A page selling “Hebrew garments.” The page reads, “Tool of TMH,” meaning “The Most High,” a reference to supposedly properly reading the Bible.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday morning, “This was a premeditated violent antisemitic hate crime. … You can say it was an act of terror.” However, in a later December 11 news conference, a host of state and federal officials stressed that they had not yet determined the ideology and motive of the shooters.
“We are working to learn more about the shooters’ motivations and whether anyone besides the two gunmen may be involved,” Grewal said in the news conference the afternoon after the shooting. “The why and the ideologies and motivations, that’s what we’re investigating.”
Greg Ehrie, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Newark, said the FBI did a forensic analysis of the suspect van.
“They did locate in that, amongst other items that I won’t be discussing, a pipe bomb — an improvised explosive device,” he said. “What I will say is that it was examined, it’s in the FBI laboratory right now. It was a viable device, meaning that it could be a device that would have exploded. It was not complicated but sophisticated in the sense that time and effort went into creating it.”
He added: “We’re not in the position at this time to say definitively why the suspects decided to stop in front of the supermarket and begin firing immediately.” He revealed, that “numerous firearms were recovered from the scene. A pipe bomb was also recovered.”
Two other officers were wounded by gunfire in the December 10, 2019, mass shooting, but were treated and released from the hospital, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said in a press conference. Armed with high-powered rifles, the two suspects were described on scanner transmissions as wearing all black and possibly clad in trench or raincoats. There were conflicting reports early on about whether they were two men or a male and a female. The latter report first came over the scanner, but Kelly later said they were “preliminarily” believed to be two males. It was now revealed they are a man and a woman.
Attorney General Grewal said in the news conference that, after murdering veteran Jersey City Detective Joe Seals, at 12:21 p.m., in a cemetery, a white U-Haul driven by Anderson parked directly across the street from the store about a mile from the cemetery. Within seconds of arriving, Anderson exited the door “with a rifle in his hand,” said the AG. He walked toward the JC Kosher supermarket and “immediately began shooting.” Graham, the passenger, followed him into the store. From that point onward, the suspects remained in the store. They encountered four civilians in the store. Three were killed. One survived a gunshot wound. Those killed were named as Mindy Ferencz, 32; Miguel Douglas, 49; and Moshe Deutsch, 24. The survivor’s name was not released. “One person escaped with a gunshot wound,” the AG confirmed.
The civilian victims are the “wife of the owner, a worker, and a customer,” said Grewal. “Our belief is they were killed almost immediately.”
The Jewish media named two of the victims as Ferencz, who co-owned the grocery with her husband and is also known as Leah Mindel Ferencz and Leah Minda Ferencz, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, her cousin. Both were members of the local Orthodox community, and Deutsch was the son of a prominent New York rabbi. The third victim, Miguel Douglas, was an immigrant from Ecuador who had been working at the Jewish grocery store for the past three years. His pastor at Iglesia Nueva Vida said he was working there to provide for his wife and 11-year-old daughter.
Chabad.org talked to the survivor who was in the store. “I was standing by the salad bar in the grocery and I heard three shots, bullets shattered the glass of the grocery,” he told Chabad. “Suddenly I saw two people come in, with long black raincoats and long guns. They tried to point the gun at me, I pushed it away and ran away.” Read more about Ferencz and the JC Kosher Supermarket where the standoff occurred here.
When officers responded, they were “immediately engaged by high-power rifle fire,” Jersey City Police Chief Kelly said. At the same time, they learned an officer, later identified as Detective Joseph Seals, a Cease-Fire unit officer known for removing guns off the streets, “was down in another part of the city.”
You can read about Seals’ life here. The three civilian victims have not yet been named. NJ.com reported that one victim was shopping at the time and that some of the victims are members of the Jewish community.
NBC New York reported, through sources, that surveillance video shows two suspects “shoot a Hasidic man on the street and then run into the store, where they began firing at the victims inside.” The suspects “had…bomb-making materials inside the truck,” the station reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Francine Graham’s Ex-Neighbor Says She Was a Former Health Aide Who Would Chant & Read From the Bible Inside Her Manhattan Home After Being ‘Coerced Into a Militant Religion’
A former neighbor told NBC New York that Francine Graham previously lived in a Manhattan and was a former home health aide. She was injured on the job and quit, according to the neighbor. The neighbor said Graham turned into a “dark person” after she met David Anderson and was “coerced into a militant religion.”
According to NBC New York, “The neighbor also claims Graham was coerced into a militant religion he could not identify; chanting and reading of the New Testament, translated into ‘evil,’ could be heard from her home.”
Graham stopped paying her condo fees and left the complex about a year ago, and NBC New York reports the apartment’s mortgage was assumed by the bank.
According to public records, Graham lived in Elizabethport, New Jersey. She lived in Manhattan from 1994 to 2011 and then moved to New Jersey in 2011, living in Elizabethport until November 2018. She bought the condo in 2011 through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Public records show Anderson had a criminal record, with arrests in New Jersey in 2004, 2007 and 2011, all on weapons charges. He spent some time in jail. Anderson was also arrested in Ohio in 2009 on a criminal mischief charge stemming from a domestic violence incident and spent 30 days in jail. Further details about his criminal history were not immediately available.
2. Graham’s Partner in the Shootings Was Once a Member of the Black Hebrew Israelite Movement & Religious Writings Were Found in a Van They Were Using
According to NBC News, Francine Graham’s partner in the shootings, David Anderson, was a one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a black supremacist group who believe they are the true chosen people of God. Police also found religious writings inside the van that Graham and Anderson were using at the time of the shootings, NBC News reports. Details about the religious writings were not immediately available.
A YouTube channel in Anderson’s name appears to have been used by him to share several videos related to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. He only shared videos on the page and did not post any of his own.
The Southern Poverty Law Center writes, “The Hebrew Israelite movement is rooted in Black Judaism, a belief system birthed in the late 1800s by black Christians from the South’s Pentecostal “Holiness” movement. They claimed to have received a revelation: America’s recently emancipated slaves were God’s chosen people, the true Hebrews. According to Black Judaism doctrine, when the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed, the Israelites were first scattered across the African continent and then selectively targeted by enemy African tribes who captured and sold them to European slave traders for bondage in the New World.”
The SPLC adds, “Black Judaism leaders preached self-empowerment and economic independence, an early form of black nationalism that was foundational for later groups like the Nation of Islam. Their rhetoric, emphasizing the biblical theme of an oppressed nation being led to a promised land, informed black activist thought right up through the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.”
The Black Hebrew Israelites gained national attention in January 2019 when members of the group who were protesting in Washington D.C. confronted students from Covington Catholic High School.
In 2008, the SPLC wrote that some groups of racist Black Hebrew Israelites were becoming more militant. “Around the country, thousands of men and women have joined black supremacist groups on the extremist fringe of the Hebrew Israelite movement, a black nationalist theology that dates back to the 19th century. Its doctrine asserts that African Americans are God’s true chosen people because they, not the people known to the world today as Jews, are the real descendants of the Hebrews of the Bible.
The SPLC added, “Although most Hebrew Israelites are neither explicitly racist nor anti-Semitic and do not advocate violence, there is a rising extremist sector within the Hebrew Israelite movement whose adherents believe that Jews are devilish impostors and who openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery.”
White supremacist leader Tom Metzger once said, “They’re the black counterparts of us.”
Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, who shops at the JC Kosher Supermarket store, told Times of Israel that he spoke to Mindy Ferencz’s husband, Moishe Ferencz, but Moishe didn’t know his wife had been killed yet.
“He told me he had just walked out of the store into the synagogue not five feet away just before this happened, and then he couldn’t get back for hours,” Schapiro said, according to Times of Israel and The Associated Press. “His wife was inside the store. He said, ‘I hope my wife is safe.’”
According to the Times of Israel, the Ferencz store is the “only kosher supermarket in the area and a central fixture for the growing community.” A yeshiva and a synagogue are close by. The newspaper said that about 100 Jewish families live in that area, mostly moving there from Brooklyn.
Chabad described the store as “a focal point of the Greenville neighborhood’s growing Jewish community.”
Rabbi David Niederman told CBS that Leah, who he called Mindel Ferencz, “was a pioneer. She and her husband were from the first people who moved to Jersey City, who could not afford a home for their growing family and figured, ‘let’s go to places where it’s cheaper, and I’ll make an example and go there. I’ll open a grocery store so that families can go and shop locally. Therefore growing the community, alleviating the pain of so many – thousands of families – who live under unbearable conditions.”
North Jersey.com reported that Moshe was Ferencz’s cousin. His full name was Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, and he was “visiting from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.” Another cousin was also in the store and was injured but survived.
According to the news site, he is the son of Abe Deutsch, described as “a well known community leader in Williamsburg.” Rabbi Niederman also discussed Moshe to CBS, saying, “Moshe himself studied, found his time to help not only his peers from his yeshiva but other kids, and he was one of the major organizers in the major food drive that 2,000 families get every year. The network described Moshe’s dad Abe as a “prominent Jewish leader.”
3. The Jersey City Mayor Says Authorities Now Believe the Two Suspects ‘Targeted the Location They Attacked’
Police said initially that they believed Detective Joe Seals had approached two suspicious men in a cemetery when they opened fire and then fled to the bodega. They also said in their first and second news conferences that they don’t believe the incident was a terrorist attack. In the second news conference, Kelly was asked whether the motive was terrorism or a hate crime. He said: “I can tell you we have no evidence that’s pointing in that direction at this time,” but he said it was under investigation.
Hundreds of shots were fired in the incident, he said. He said he didn’t yet know if the suspects have any gang affiliations.
However, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop then tweeted this without offering further explanation: “Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked. Due to an excess of caution, the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead. We have no indication there are any further threats.” He hasn’t clarified whether authorities believe terrorism could now be involved and/or a hate crime.
The mayor also wrote, “We have been in close contact with the Jewish community in #JerseyCity to help where we can. While we work through details/investigation of today’s incident I know the entire Jersey City community stands together with the Jewish Community during these challenging times.”
Many people demanded that Fulop clarify his remarks. Did he mean, for example, that the suspects purposely picked out the bodega because it was Jewish?
On the morning of December 11, Mayor Fulop gave more information. “Last night after extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location on MLK Dr – the 2 JCPD officers that were on a foot post one block away immediately responded/engaged and prevented the perpetrators from leaving that location and harming any further civilians. At this time we have no credible further threats from this incident but out of an abundance of caution we will be increasing our police presence in the community,” he said.
“I’m Jewish and proud to live in a community like #JerseyCity that has always welcomed everyone. It is the home of #EllisIsland and has always been the golden door to America. Hate and anti-semitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city.” He said more details would have to come from the Attorney General’s Office.
The disturbing surveillance video emerged on Tuesday:
Fulop said at a press conference, “Yesterday it was difficult to understand intent and there are still a lot of questions around that. After reviewing CCTV cameras on the Jersey City side, we do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli. We can see the van moving through Jersey City streets slowly, the perpetrators stop in front of there and calmly open the door with two long rifles and … began firing from the street into the facility. There were two officers on a walking post one block south and when they heard the gunshots they responded immediately and from what we can tell on the CCTV cameras, had they not responded and had they not been there in that location, more than likely more people would have died.”
Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea added, “They parked the van, they exited the van with the long guns in their hands and they immediately began firing toward the location where we lost three of our citizens yesterday. 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,” referencing the kosher market.
Shea said that with the amount of ammunition Graham and Anderson had, they likely planned on attacking more people if they had not been confronted by the officers and forced to barricade inside the market.
When asked if it was anti-Semitic attack, Shea said, “I didn’t use the words anti-Semitic. The motives are still part of the investigation. I said this location, they exited the van and they proceeded to attack in a targeted manner. Anything else is open for investigation. I have nothing but confidence in the people investigating it. They will leave no stone unturned and they will find those answers for the community.”
“The Mayor of Jersey City has asserted that today’s incident was a deliberate attack targeting the Jewish community,” claimed New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio on Twitter. He added: “This tragically confirms that a growing pattern of violent anti-Semitism has now turned into a crisis for our nation. And now this threat has reached the doorstep of New York City.”
“Our officers were under fire for four hours,” said Kelly. “We have no inkling what the motive was yet.”
According to Kelly, “We called for mutual aid from our partners – FBI, Port Authority, all surrounding municipalities, ATF. At that time, we set up a tactical advantage. Continued to take gunfire for hours. Two more police officers were hit by gunfire. One sustained an injury to the shoulder. One sustained an injury to the body,” he said.
Those officers were named as Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez. They’ve been treated and released from the hospital.
Authorities said in a news conference that there were “multiple casualties” inside the bodega when they entered it, and they think the suspects murdered the hostages.
Scanner transmissions indicated that, even after they ended up in the bodega, at least one suspect kept firing. “He’s shooting again. He’s shooting again,” an officer said on the police scanner, at one point.
The ATF confirmed: “Breaking: @ATF_Newark Agents responding to reports of an active shooter in Jersey City, NJ.”
4. Graham’s Family Members Say They Don’t Know Anything About What Happened
Franklin Graham, Francine Graham’s brother, told The New York Times he wasn’t aware of any ties his sister had to the extremist Black Hebrew Israelites, “I don’t know what’s happening. I didn’t know she was part of any of that. I’m trying to get more information.”
A man said through the door at her mother’s apartment told The Times, “we don’t know anything.”
Francine Graham grew up in the Manhattanville Houses in West Harlem, where her mother still lives, according to The Times. A neighbor, Alice Harriet, told the newspaper she was a, “Very nice person. Always had a nice conversation to keep.”
Attorney General Grewal said the state saw the “very worst of humanity.” But we also “saw the very best. Yesterday could have been far deadlier. The reason it was not was due to the heroism of the Jersey City police department” and cooperation with other agencies.
Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy praised law enforcement, saying that, were it not for the immediate response “today we would be coming to terms with a much starker reality. This remains a very fluid and fast-moving investigation.”
He said that his administration is working to “provide whatever assistance is needed to ensure that residents are safe. Based on everything we know, there is no ongoing security concern relating to the events of yesterday.”
“An attack on our Jewish community… is an attack on all 9 million of us,” he said, praising the state’s diversity. “We are also firm in our resolve to take the steps necessary to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
5. The Slain Detective Might Have Been Investigating the Homicide of Michael Rumberger, Who Was an Uber Driver, but It Is Not Clear if or How Graham & Anderson Are Connected to Him
How Seals first encountered the suspects is not entirely clear, although authorities confirmed it happened in Bayview Cemetery. Some sites are reporting that Seals was in the midst of a homicide investigation. Why that would lead him to a cemetery and the suspects remains unclear. The circumstances of the killing of Det. Seals remain under investigation. However, Grewal revealed that “the two suspects, Anderson and Graham, are our prime suspects in the Bayonne Uber driver killing” of Rumberger.
ABC7 reported that, early on, authorities thought Seals was working a drug case, but now, according to law enforcement sources, they think that might not really be the case. Rather, they now believe the suspects might have drawn Seals’ interest because of the weekend homicide of a man named Michael Rumberger, of Jersey City, whose body was found stuffed in the trunk of a Lincoln Town car. Rumberger was found beaten to death with head trauma. There is a GoFundMe page set up to help Rumberger’s family.
Learn more about Rumberger’s death here. NBC New York also reported that, according to law enforcement sources, it is believed that “Seals saw a U-Haul truck possibly linked to a murder from over the weekend in Bayonne. As he approached the truck, one of the suspects got out of the car and shot him.”
NBC also mentioned Rumberger’s death, saying he was a livery driver. “It was not immediately known why or how the U-Haul truck that Det. Seals approached was linked to the death of livery driver Michael Rumberger,” NBC reported.
As to whether the officer was investigating a homicide, Kelly said “those are all potentialities that are being looked into.” Seals was on duty. “Detective Seals was working. He came upon bad guys, and I don’t know how he got there just yet,” he said, adding that Seals was a plain clothes detective.
Police described the shooting scene as “chaotic.” A man was down inside the store, and someone had put a glass coffee pot in view. Police worried that it could be a “device,” showing how tense the scene grew. The window in the back was garbage bag taped, police said. The bodega in question was located at Wilkinson Avenue and Martin Luther King Dr. in Jersey City. The specific address was 223 MLK Drive, according to NJ.com. Online records say that’s the address of JC Kosher Supermarket.
ABC News also reported that the suspects fired long guns at arriving police.
Tactical officers responded en masse. “Keep your people safe,” one officer said on the dispatch audio.
The report of two shooters came in early on from scanner dispatch audio. “We saw two shooters get out of the van. We saw two jump out of that van and go in,” said an officer. The description was “black male and a black female” wearing all black clothing, possibly with rain or trenchcoats. That officer told the dispatcher it wasn’t clear whether both shooters were still inside the store, but police didn’t see either come out. Police later found the two suspects dead inside the store.
NJ.com reported that, at one point, “the gunmen are shooting at anyone they see on the street and… fired at the Sacred Heart School.”
NJ.com reported that a second officer was believed to be shot near Martin Luther King Drive and Bidwell Avenue.
NBC New York described what happened to Seals as an “ambush.” He was shot in the back of the head, according to NJ.com. The FBI told CBS New York that more than one officer was shot. Every Jersey City school was locked down. “We’ve got movement in the store,” an officer said on the scanner at 2:41 p.m. Officers said a male had “popped out” of the store and then went back in.
“Use caution. The U-Haul nearby is hot,” an officer said on the scanner, referring to the vehicle the suspects arrived at the store in. They said pipe bombs were in it.
Kelly described the crime scene as “very extensive and is at three locations at least. We have one stolen U-Haul vehicle that may contain an incendiary device. It’s being examined by the bomb squad. We have five people DOA inside the store. We believe two of them are bad guys, and we believe three of them are not and may be civilians who were inside the store,” he said. That brings the death toll to six.
At one point, police were surrounding the store. They wanted to make sure that police had a “line of fire.” The New Jersey State Police wrote, “State Police assets from T.E.A.M.S., Canine Unit, Bomb Unit, Marine Services, Aviation, Field Ops, Tactical Patrol, Central Security, Trafficking, and Emergency Response Bureau are assisting @JCPoliceDept with the active shooter investigation.”
According to NJ.com, the bodega is on a street that also includes a yeshiva, synagogue, and Catholic school.
The suspects were armed with high-powered rifles, police said. “Our officers were under fire for hours,” said Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly. “We have no inkling what the motive was yet.”
The police union wrote on Twitter: “Today is a horrific day. Officers have come under attack and we have several wounded. Our hearts are heavy and the violence is not over. We need prayers.”
Joseph ‘Joe’ Seals was remembered as a veteran officer who leaves behind a large family and was a “great cop” with previous heroism on the force. He took many guns off the streets. Chief Kelly said Seals was a “veteran police officer of more than 15 years.” He was in one of the highest volume districts in the city. He was promoted to detective.
Jersey City’s mayor Steve Fulop praised the slain officer’s character. “I just left the JCMC and we paid respects to the officers and their families. I just want to say something about the officer we lost. His name was Joe Seals. He was a husband, a dad of 5. He was a great cop. I know everyone always says xyz was great after they pass but in this case Joe’s performance speaks for itself. He prob is responsible for more guns being removed from the streets than any. He was an officer that loved JC, was involved in the city, and one that everyone knew regardless of their precinct.”
The governor wrote, “I have been briefed on the unfolding situation in Jersey City. 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.”
On the scanner, officers made reference to clearing the cemetery. An officer called in and said he had a witness and asked for a detective. They were talking about beginning negotiations. They spoke about officers having a “clear view into the store.”
The situation was still going on for hours after it erupted around 12:20 p.m. Responding police were wearing ballistic body armor and Kevlar.
READ NEXT: Read About the Life of Joseph Seals.