Thousands honor Jersey City cop killed by kosher market assailants

Police officers, ADL chief and Israeli consul among those who pay respects to Joseph Seals, who was shot dead at cemetery before fatal attack on Jewish store

Pallbearers transport the casket of Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals in to St. Aeden's church for the funeral services in Jersey City, New Jersey, December 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Pallbearers transport the casket of Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals in to St. Aeden's church for the funeral services in Jersey City, New Jersey, December 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey — As rain poured down Tuesday, thousands of police officers and others lined the streets of Jersey City to honor a detective killed last week in what officials are calling a domestic terrorism attack that targeted Jews and law enforcement.

Joseph Seals, a 40-year-old married father of five, was lauded as a model officer who helped get guns off the streets of the city of 270,000 that sits across the Hudson River from New York City. He was shot last Tuesday in a cemetery about a mile from a kosher market by two attackers who went on to kill three more people at a kosher deli before dying in a shootout with police.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement, and is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.

Jersey City Director of Public Safety James Shea last week called Seals “the ultimate detective or officer we would point to to tell young officers, ‘This is how you should behave.’” In 2008, he was credited with saving a woman from a sexual assault inside her own home on Christmas Eve.

Outside St. Aedan’s Church, retired Jersey City police officer Glenn Gualtieri remembered Seals on Tuesday as being “extremely conscientious, well-liked, a dedicated professional,” adding that Seals’ mild-mannered demeanor went against the stereotype many have of police officers. He noted that Seals, who was white, served in communities where distrust of the police by minority residents is a fact of life.

Det. Joseph Seals was slain by gunmen who went on to attack a Jersey City kosher market on Dec. 10, 2019. (Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association via JTA)

“Sometimes in different communities, you’re not always the most popular person, but there are a lot of people who are good people who have nowhere else to turn when it comes to crime, and they look to the police to give them a little peace of mind. And Joe did that,” he said.

Police officers from towns nearby and throughout the country lined up 12 deep for blocks in anticipation of the funeral procession Tuesday. Sgt. Brian Lowe was among four members the Kingston police department, which is about an hour north of New York City, who came to show support.

“It helps out in that it builds a camaraderie, it helps to see that everybody is on the same page, that everybody’s there for each other,” he said.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Monday that police departments from nearby towns offered to help patrol the city to allow officers to attend the funeral.

Also attending the funeral were CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt and Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York.

“My heart breaks for the family and friends of a fallen hero, Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals. Murdered in the line of duty a week ago, we stand today in solidarity with the community to honor his memory and stand strong against #hate,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.

Former Jersey City residents Matthew and Eileen McGinn drove in from the suburbs to stand in the rain across from the church to pay their respects. Both have close ties to the police force through family — Eileen McGinn said her sister-in-law’s family “are all Jersey City cops” — or familiarity.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Matthew McGinn said. “You can’t come from Jersey City, be active in the community and not know police, especially being Irish.”

Police officers and other first responders gather before the funeral of Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals in Jersey City, New Jersey, December 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Department of Justice said US Attorney General William Barr will be at the funeral.

Funerals already have been held for the other victims killed in the deli: Mindel Ferencz, 31, who co-owned the grocery; 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there; and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49. A fourth person in the store was shot and wounded but managed to escape, authorities have said.

David Anderson and Francine Graham, who were killed in a shootout with police, had several weapons including AR-15 assault rifles when their bodies were found, and a pipe bomb was found in the U-Haul van they drove to the market. The pair also are believed to have killed a livery driver who was found dead in the trunk of a car in nearby Bayonne the weekend before the kosher market shootings.

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