(NBC/WETM) – A police officer, three civilians and two suspects were killed Tuesday afternoon during a shootout and standoff in Jersey City, authorities said.
The deadly mayhem started when the slain officer was investigating a murder and approached two suspects — when one of them opened fire, shooting the officer in the head and killing him, law enforcement sources told NBC News.
The two suspects then fled in a rental van and holed up in a grocery store a few blocks away, near Martin Luther King Drive and Bidwell Avenue, about 8 miles southwest of Midtown Manhattan in New York City, law enforcement sources said.
The 39-year-old officer who was killed has been identified as Det. Joseph Seals, who was with the Jersey City Police Department since 2006. Seals was married and the father of five children.
Though the investigation is still in its early phases, Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly said authorities believe Seals was shot while trying to stop the suspects. Kelly said that while he was unsure why the plainclothes detective was there, he believes it may have been related to guns.
“As the mayor alluded to, he was the leading police officer in removing guns from the street,” Kelly said. “Dozens and dozens of handguns, he’s responsible for removing from the street.”
Two other officers were injured, one in the shoulder and one in the body, but have since been released.
SWAT officers and first responders, including Hatzalah paramedics, who serve the orthodox Jewish community, rushed to the scene.