PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police have increased patrols to synagogues and other places of worship after Tuesday’s deadly shootout at a Jewish market in Jersey City. Six people were killed, including a police detective.
Officials say the Jewish market was targeted and two shooters planned the deadly attack.
As the investigation continues into a motive behind the deadly shooting, there are understandable concerns among the Jewish community here at home. Jewish leaders are once again considering their own safety.
Malcom Adler knows what it’s like to feel targeted.
“We are used to that but we are also used to wanting to live free,” he said.
Adler is the president of Temple Menorah Keneseth Chai Synagogue in Tacony. Two winters ago their windows were hit — on three separate occasions — by a rock-throwing vandal.
That vandalism didn’t end up being targeted, or knowingly anti-Semitic.
“He just was wanting to break windows,” Adler said.
But there are growing fears that anti-Semitism was part of the deadly violence that took place in Jersey City.
“We’re very concerned about what happened in Jersey City,” Adler said.
Several public officials, including Jersey City’s mayor, consider the deadly shootout to have been a targeted attack, as a bulk of the shooting took place in a kosher supermarket. Two of the three bystanders killed inside the store were Jewish.
New Jersey’s attorney general declined to comment on a motive, considering it too soon to know for sure.
Still, for our local Jewish community, this hits home.
“We just can’t let our guard down because you never know when it’s going to hit us,” Adler said.
It’s reached a point where more and more area synagogues are looking to hire professional protection.
“The board of directors has asked me to look into getting security guards outside and around the building for our services. We feel threatened,” Adler said.
Adler advises congregants to be aware and keep safety in mind.
“Don’t allow what happened in Jersey City to stop you from coming to services or stop you from doing anything,” he said.
The incident began around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, when officers confronted two people they believed looked suspicious.
The ensuing standoff lasted hours, bringing a busy neighborhood to a standstill during an intense gun battle.
Police believe the suspects may have been planning an even larger attack. After reviewing surveillance videos, Jersey City officials say the two shooters targeted a Jewish kosher deli.
“We could see a van moving through Jersey City streets slowly, the perpetrators stopped in front and calmly opened the door with two long rifles, him and the other perpetrator and began firing,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said.
Police say the shooting began at a cemetery before shifting to the deli. When it was over, Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals, three bystanders and the suspects were killed. Two wounded officers are expected to recover.
Based on the amount of ammunition found with the suspects, police believe they intended to kill many more people.
Investigators are not commenting on a motive, but The New York Times is reporting one suspect published anti-Semitic and anti-police posts online.
Authorities also found what they describe as an incendiary device in the U-Haul rental van used by the shooters.
CBS3’s Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.