Jersey City officials say kosher deli shooting may be targeted

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Wednesday afternoon New Jersey and federal officials went out of their way not to disclose a motive in the shooting at a kosher deli Tuesday.

But as thousands of Jewish congregants gathered in Chicago for peace and prayer, the violence in Jersey City was top of mind.

The Union for Reform Judaism Biennial is one of the largest Jewish gatherings in North America, back in Chicago for the first time in more than 30 years.

"It's (really) something to get so many people together from the Jewish world to learn and celebrate as a community," said Rabbi Ari Ballaban.

"Over 5,000 Jews from throughout North America, the United States and Canada, gather together to learn, to pray, to sing, and just to be with one another," said attendee Naomi Morse. "I'm thrilled to be back."

It's a time for the faithful to find community, and it's a time to work toward a world free from violence like the shooting at a kosher deli in New Jersey.

Video circulating online, which law enforcement confirmed is part of the investigation, shows the two suspects pulling up, getting out and opening fire.

"As we're learning more that they were specifically targeting the Jewish community, that's when it gets really scary for me," said Rabbi Marina Yergin.

Authorities said early Wednesday this was a deliberate, targeted attack. But they would not confirm at a news conference Wednesday afternoon any terrorism or anti-semetic motive.

"We're not in a position at this time to say definitively why the shooter is there," said New Jersey Attorney General Grubir Grewal.

The two suspects, 47-year-old David Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham, are dead following an hours long fire fight and standoff with police.

Both are believed to be followers of the Black Israelites, a group that espouses hatred toward Jews.

Two women and a man were also killed dead, as was s Jersey City Police Detective Joe Seals.

One other man was injured in the shooting but escaped.

"Yesterday could have been far deadlier. And the reason that it wasn't is due to the heroism of the men and women of the Jersey City Police Department," said Grewal.

ABC 7 Chicago checked on extra security at local synagogues. Chicago police said they haven't added any but are ready to do so if asked.

FBI hate crime data shows anti-Jewish offences have risen this decade, peaking in 2017 with 938.

Although the number dropped to 825 last year, 2018 still had the second highest count of anti-Jewish offences since 2011.

Anti-Jewish attacks were consistently the most common type of anti-faith offence this decade, accounting for more than 50% each year.
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