A survivor of the deadly shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, said Friday that he had narrowly escaped death and that the shooters had clearly come into the store to kill people.
“The way they came in, they came to kill, to shoot,” David Lax told CNN news.
The shooters killed three people Tuesday in the JC Kosher Supermarket before being killed by police. Authorities said the attackers were motivated by anti-Semitism.
Lax owns an appliance repair shop in the same neighborhood and had stopped in the supermarket for lunch.
When the shooting started, he dove under the store’s refrigerated salad bar, until the male shooter moved past him.
Lax then stood up and encountered the female attacker, who entered the store second.
“The second she starts pivoting herself, I just went right in and push back her arm and just run right out of the store,” Lax said.
The woman, later identified as Francine Graham, fired at him as he fled, Lax said.
Lax dashed across the street to safety in a dramatic escape that was captured on surveillance footage.
“I didn’t look right or left, I just ran for my life,” he said.
In a separate interview Thursday with NBC news, Lax said the two shooters appeared well-prepared for the assault. NBC confirmed with the US military that the male shooter, David Anderson, had served in the US Army Reserve.
“The way they were carrying themselves, the way they were handling themselves, they were very professional,” Lax said.
The entire ordeal for him lasted about 10 seconds, he said.
After fleeing the store Lax found a child outside, whom he escorted farther from the store, then called the police.
“I’m not sure why, but I’m alive,” he said.
The two killers were armed with a variety of weapons, including an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun that they were wielding when they stormed into the store in an attack that left the scene littered with several hundred shell casings, broken glass and a community in mourning. A pipe bomb was also found in a stolen U-Haul van.
The victims killed in the store were: Mindel Ferencz, 32, who with her husband owned the grocery; 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there; and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49.
Rodriguez, a non-Jewish immigrant from Ecuador, was killed while helping a customer escape.
Before arriving at the supermarket, the shooters killed police officer Joseph Seals, who had confronted them in a nearby cemetery. Officials have not yet released details of the encounter.
Law enforcement officials said the shooters were motivated by anti-Jewish hatred.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Friday that he believes Anderson and Graham were actually planning to target a yeshiva next door to the supermarket that had 50 children inside at the time of the assault.
On Thursday New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement and is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.
Members of the area’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community gathered Wednesday night for funerals for Ferencz and Deutsch. Thousands of people followed Ferencz’s casket through the streets of Brooklyn, hugging and crying.
The bloodshed in the city of 270,000 people across the Hudson River from New York City spread fear through the nascent Jewish community of around 100 families, most of whom moved to New Jersey from Brooklyn in recent years.
In the deadliest attack on Jews in US history, 11 people were killed in an October 2018 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Last April, a gunman opened fire at a synagogue near San Diego, killing a woman and wounding a rabbi and two others.