A barrage of gunfire, with hundreds of rounds fired, concluded around 2:00 p.m. in the Greenville section of Jersey City, New Jersey, on Tuesday afternoon as a deadly shooting left four victims lifeless inside a kosher supermarket, including three frum Jewish members – Reb Shlome Friedman, Mrs. Leah Mindel Ferentz, and Mrs. Chava Gold, according to local Hatzalah volunteers and the JBN Jewish media outlet. Fifteen-year veteran Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals was also deceased, following a probable gun or drug deal gone awry at nearby Bay View Cemetery just after noon. Misaskim founder Rabbi Jack Meyer was on the scene alongside Chesed Shel Emes and NJ State Police Chaplain Rabbi Abe Friedman to ensure proper procedures were followed for the Jewish victims. Two other officers and three others were injured. The suspects were found dead in the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City.
Community activist and chasidic resident Chesky Deutsch had spoken with a Brooklyn victim in his 20s, who was being treated for three gunshot wounds. “He had been shopping at the grocery when the shooting broke out and has fading memories of the incident,” Deutsch reported.
Rabbi Shmuel Levitin, Director of Chabad Young Professionals of Hoboken and Jersey City noted that Grenville’s Jewish community has recently seen a sudden growth spurt of various groups of
chasidim, and JC Kosher Supermarket is the center of much of the community’s activity. Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, also of the local Chabad, noted that next door is the Greenville Beis Medrash and a yeshivah is not far off. About a hundred Yiddish-speaking families have moved into wood-framed homes priced at just $300,000, compared to nearly triple the price for similar homes in New York. These families are pioneers in a demographic and religious shift, reshaping neighborhoods in other unexpected locales like Willowbrook in Staten Island and Toms River and Jackson Township in New Jersey. JC Kosher owner Moshe Ferencz, who opened the establishment to service the community in July of 2017, had stepped out to daven Minchah moments before the shootout consumed his store.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a yeshivah graduate and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called the day “really tough” for the city.
Dressed in black, two men fled the scene at the cemetery in a stolen U-Haul and ended up at the JC Kosher Supermarket where the gun battle continued. Hundreds of law enforcement officers soon descended upon the area, taking up defensive positions as the suspects had barricaded themselves inside the supermarket.
Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly noted that the crime scene is spread across at least three locations and that a U-Haul possibly containing incendiary devices was removed from the scene for further investigation. Seals was an exemplary officer known to “remove guns from the streets.”
Jersey City schools, a yeshivah, and New Jersey City University were placed on lockdown for several hours as a precaution. Rail and bus service were suspended, as well, on the west side of Jersey City.
President Donald Trump was briefed and continued to monitor the investigation as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered NYC’s assistance.
Editor's Note: As we went to print, Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop tweeted that investigators now believe "the shooters targeted the location they attacked." We'll have more detailed coverage on social media and in next issue.
By Shabsie Saphirstein