It was Joseph Seals, a veteran Jersey City detective, who went down in gunfire Tuesday afternoon, officials said at a press conference.
Seals, who’s been part of the South District police unit since 2006, was a husband and father of five children. He and five others were shot dead in the gunfight that went on “for hours” just miles away from Saint Peter’s University, in the Greenville section of the city, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said.
“We cried with the family,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop added at a press conference outside of Jersey City Medical Center.
Two officers were also hit in the shooting. One was struck in the shoulder and the other in the body; both were released from the hospital.
The five bodies, including the two suspects -- believed to be males -- and three civilians, were found dead in the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive. Their names have not been released.
SPU’s Campus Safety was active with updates, advising students of the fatal situation, safety concerns and impeding traffic delays, but assured the community that they were safe.
“This incident occurred several miles away,” the email said in its last update sent at 4:34 p.m. “Our campus was never at risk.”
All Jersey City Public Schools were put under lockdown for about three hours for safety precaution, Fulop said.
It’s said to have started at Bayview Cemetery on Garfield Avenue where Seals, who was on-duty, was reportedly gunned down. Kelly said he is unsure why Seals was there.
The JCPD received calls of shots fired around 12:30 p.m., Kelly said. They were “engaged by rifle fire”; multiple videos surfaced on social media during the shootout, showing police officers and other units walk down the streets with armor, shields and guns.
BREAKING: There's an ongoing active shooter situation in Jersey City.Why do our communities look like a warzone?It doesn't have to be this way. Every day our leaders fail to address this crisis, they choose this fate. pic.twitter.com/Vk31jFoafs— Giffords (@GiffordsCourage) December 10, 2019
Kelly also said there was one stolen U-Haul rental van, that the shooters reportedly used, that might have contained an “incendiary device,” which is being investigated by the city’s bomb unit. Authorities described it as “pipe bombs” earlier, The Jersey Journal reported.
JCPD called for the FBI, Port Authority, New York and Bayonne Police Departments to help contain the situation.
Jersey City Public Safety Director noted in the press conference that Jersey City is not the only community that has experienced active shooters. This is the city’s second active shooter situation.
Kelly said the investigation won’t be over any time soon. It may take weeks or months, he said.