A man and a woman armed with long rifles killed a detective at a cemetery and three civilians in a Jewish grocery store in Jersey City in the US before being gunned down by police on Tuesday afternoon, local reports say.
City mayor Steven Fulop called it a hate crime, saying the suspects David Anderson and Francine Graham wanted to target people visiting the store from the Jewish neighbourhood.
Fulop tweeted that the two suspects had posted several anti-Semitic views on social media.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio supported Fulop, saying anti-Semitism is a national threat and it has now reached the doorstep of the Big Apple.
NYPD has been told to be on high alert in the wake of the Jersey City attack, Blasio said.
Jersey City police chief, Michael Kelly, ruled out terror angle in the attack while Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said it is too early to draw any conclusion since the motive of the suspects is not clear.
However, Grewal said Anderson, 47, and Graham, 50, are suspected to be behind the murder of Michael Rumberger, a driver for Uber, in Bayonne on Saturday night.
Police said the two suspects came in a van linked to the Bayonne murder and shot Detective Joseph Seals, above, (Photo courtesy of NJ Chiefs of Police/Twitter) in the back of the head at the Bayview Cemetery on Garfield Avenue around 12.30pm.
Seals, who worked for the city’s Cease Fire Unit, was on duty and in plainclothes when he was accosted by the two suspects.
After killing the officer during a brief exchange of fire, the suspects drove off to JC Kosher Supermarket located several blocks away on Martin Luther King Drive in Greenville.
When police arrived at the store responding to calls, the suspects started firing at them. In the ensuing gun battle that went on till 2.30pm, the two were shot dead.
Three civilians including two Jews in the store were killed by the suspects, according to police.
The gunfight shook the neighbourhood where some 100 Orthodox Jewish families live and prompted lock-down of schools in the vicinity until 4.15pm.
Residents said they heard shots so loud as if they were from a cannon.
Kelly remembered Seals as a dedicated officer who led his team in removing dozens of guns from the street.
President Donald Trump condemned the “horrific”shootout in Jersey City adding that his thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
Two officers injured in the exchange of fire were discharged from a hospital after treatment on Tuesday.