JERSEY CITY, N.J. (Gray News) - Officials said six people were killed including a police officer as a result of what’s been described as a wild shootout and standoff Tuesday.
During a news conference, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly identified the officer who died as Det. Joseph Seals, a 13-year veteran of the force and father of five.
Kelly said his agency believes the incident started at a cemetery around noon where an officer was injured in the shoulder. The scene then moved to a nearby kosher supermarket.
Authorities believe the Jewish market was targeted by the gunmen, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted Tuesday night. Fulop did not provide any other details.
Hundreds of officers, SWAT units and others responded to the scene where Kelly said they were met by gunfire from high powered rifles.
“Our officers were under fire for hours,” the chief said.
Officers were eventually able to enter the store where they found the bodies of what are believed to be three civilians and two suspects.
The officer shot at the cemetery was taken to a hospital and is expected to be released. Two other officers were treated and released from the hospital after being hit by shrapnel.
Kelly also said a stolen U-Haul connected to the shooting may contain some sort of explosive device and are working to neutralize it.
Kelly would not say what led to the shooting, but believes the officer who was killed was trying to stop the “bad guys.” The names of the victims found inside the store have not yet been released.
A nearby Catholic school was placed on lockdown, but the archdiocese said staff and students at the Sacred Heart School were safe, the Associated Press reported.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in an earlier statement that he been briefed on the unfolding situation.
“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,” Murphy said. "I have every confidence in our law enforcement professionals to ensure the safety of the community and resolve this situation. Today reminds us of their bravery and the sacrifices they, and their families, make for our communities.”
Andy Patel, who works at a shop three blocks away, told the AP he could hear gunfire for around an hour.
“It’s like firecrackers going off. They were shooting like crazy,” he said. “Then it stopped for like 20 or 30 minutes. The cops were clearing everyone off the streets.”
The Jersey City School District and other officials said schools in the area had been placed in lockdown.
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation, his deputy press secretary told CNN.
Jersey City has a population of around 270,000 people and is located minutes away from New York.