KEY POINTS

  • Routine car check leads to gun battle that leaves six dead in Jersey City
  • Among those slain was a police detective with five children
  • Hundreds of shots were fired during the hours-long gunbattle at a kosher grocery store

Two suspects armed with automatic rifles killed four people, including a police detective, before being shot dead themselves by other police officers Tuesday afternoon in a bloody rampage in Jersey City. Two other police officers were also shot and wounded but are out of danger.

The bloody shootout that began 12:30 p.m. at the Bay View cemetery at Garfield Avenue ended at a kosher grocery store at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard some four hours later. Jersey City Police Department Chief Michael Kelly said “hundreds” of shots were fired during the gun battle. He believes the three civilians killed in grocery store were murdered by the suspects.

Kelly identified the slain detective as Joseph Seals. The wounded officers are Mariela Fernandez and Ray Sanchez. The identities of both suspects and the three civilians haven't been revealed.

Kelly recounted the gunfight began at the Bay View cemetery where both suspects were spotted in a rental van. Police officers approached the suspects, who immediately opened fire, hitting Seals repeatedly. The detective was rushed to the hospital but did not survive.

City Mayor Steven Fulop called Seals “one of our best police officers.” He was a member of JCPD for more than 15 years and was assigned to the city’s “cease fire” unit, responsible for removing guns from the street. Seals, 40, leaves behind a wife and five children.

In their flight to escape, the suspects drove a mile and wound-up at the grocery store in the middle of a residential neighborhood, according to CBS New York.

“Units responded and were immediately engaged by high-powered rifle fire,” said Kelly. Responding officers set up a perimeter and called for assisance from other law enforcement agencies such as the New Jersey State Police.

“Just about all the folks that were within earshot of us responded,” noted Kelly. “(We) continued to take gunfire for hours. Our officers were under fire for hours. Two more police officers were hit by gunfire. One sustained an injury to the shoulder. One sustained another injury to the body. Those officers have since been released from the hospital.”

“The Jersey City Police Department did a phenomenal job and it’s a tough day for them,” said Mayor Fulop.

"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," said Gov. Phil Murphy in a statement. "I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation."