At least four people, including one police officer, were killed in a shootout in Jersey City on Tuesday. The incident began near a cemetery in a residential neighborhood and ended with a prolonged gun battle between police and two suspects who barricaded themselves inside a Jewish grocery store.
Officials said the two suspects were killed in the gunfight.
It started when officers engaged two people who looked suspicious near the cemetery. Veteran detective Joseph Seals died from injuries sustained at that scene.
The suspects then fled in a stolen truck to the Kosher grocery store, where they shut themselves in and spent hours exchanging rifle fire with police and other law enforcement officers. After the shootout, five people were found dead at the store, including two believed to be the suspects, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said Tuesday night.
Officials initially said there was "no indication of terrorism," but Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted later Tuesday night that after an initial investigation, authorities believe the suspects "targeted the location they attacked."
Suspects likely targeted site of attack
Mayor Steven Fulop announced on Twitter that after an initial investigation, authorities now believe the suspects intentionally chose the site of their attack.
"Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked," Fulop wrote. "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."
It was not clear whether Fulop was referring to the Kosher grocery store, or what was making investigators suspect any site had been deliberately targeted. Fulop said more information would be made available on Wednesday.
At least 4 people killed
At least four people were killed in the shooting, officials said Tuesday night. That also includes Joseph Seals, a detective with the Jersey City Police Department.
Authorities believe the bodies of two suspects were also discovered at the scene. Kelly added that there's "no inkling" yet of a motive for the shooting.
Slain officer was husband and father of 5
Fulop said Tuesday night identified the slain police officer as Joseph Seals, a 13-year veteran of the force. Fulop said Seals was a husband and father of five.
Kelly added that officials believe Seals was killed while trying to intercept the suspects at the cemetery. At least two other officers were shot during the shootout, he said, but both have been released from the hospital.
"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," Fulop tweeted. "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."
"We take for granted sometimes the selfless work a police officer does when they wear that uniform," he added. "In the end they are people that volunteered to keep everyone else safe regardless of the circumstance."
School lockdown lifted
The school lockdown affecting South Jersey City was lifted at 4:15 p.m. local time, the city announced on Twitter. The schools were placed on lockdown for several hours as the incident unfolded.
The tweet added that all students will be released.
Multiple people found dead inside building
Fulop said at a news conference that there are "multiple deceased" inside a building. He did not say whether the suspects were counted among the deceased.
He also confirmed the news that one officer was fatally shot, and said that another was shot in the shoulder and is being treated for his injury. Two other officers are being treated for shrapnel injuries.
When asked if the incident was terror-related, an official said there is "no indication of terrorism."
New Jersey governor briefed
Governor Phil Murphy said that he'd been briefed on the situation. "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," Murphy tweeted.
"I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation," he said. "Today reminds us of their bravery and the sacrifices they, and their families, make for our communities."
Nearby schools placed on lockdown
Nearby schools in the South district of Jersey City have been placed on lockdown.
"All students and staff are safe however ALL school are currently on lockdown due to police activity," the Jersey City school district tweeted. About an hour later, the school district said students "will not be dismissed until we receive clearance."
Fulop tweeted, "For parents: We still have an active scene but all the schools in the area are secure and all children are accounted for. We will provide more information later."
Massive police response to standoff
The situation has garnered a massive police response.
"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 (the Jersey City Police Department) with the active shooter investigation," New Jersey State Police tweeted.
The New York City Police Department said its Special Operations Bureau has responded to Jersey City to assist.