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New Jersey kosher market shooters planned another attack, possibly on Jews - prosecutor

(Reuters) - The two people who carried out a fatal gun rampage at a kosher grocery store in northern New Jersey last month were planning another attack and may have targeted Jewish people, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Emergency personnel and investigators work at the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two men around a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S., December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lloyd Mitchell

David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, fatally shot a police officer and then three civilians in a kosher market on Dec. 10 in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York City, in what authorities called an act of domestic terrorism.

The assailants were killed in a police shoot-out. An FBI investigation including a review of their internet search history showed they had run a Google search prior to the attack for “Bayonne Jewish Community Center,” about three miles from the kosher market, said Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New Jersey.

“They were targeting Jewish people and also law enforcement,” Reilly said.

Authorities on Monday said they had found materials in the assailants’ vehicle for building improvised explosive devices.

Anderson fired an AR-15-style weapon and Graham was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun as they entered the store, officials said. A 9mm Glock and 9mm semi-automatic firearm were recovered inside the market, and a .22-caliber gun equipped with a homemade silencer was found inside the assailants’ vehicle.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal last month said the attackers had expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites, a group unaffiliated with mainstream Judaism and some of whose offshoots the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as hate groups. There was no clear link between the shooters and the group.

The investigation uncovered social media posts by Anderson in which he called Jewish people “imposters” who “inhabited synagogues of Satan,” Reilly said.

The four-hour gun battle at the JC Kosher Supermarket erupted after the assailants shot the police officer at a nearby cemetery and then fled in a white van. It ended after police crashed an armoured vehicle through the wall of the market.

The three civilian victims inside the market were co-owner Mindy Ferencz, 31, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, and Moshe Deutsch, 24. A fourth person who was in the market escaped after the shooters entered. Officials declined to identify that person.

The slain police officer was Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the force and father of five.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and David Gregorio