Officer, 5 others dead after massive gun battle breaks out in New Jersey

Regional News

(ABC News) — Six people, including a New Jersey police officer, have died after a gun battle was prompted by what is believed to have been a drug deal gone bad in Jersey City.

Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said among the dead are two gunmen.

Detective Joseph Seals, 40, was shot at the Bay View Cemetery while responding to a call of two suspects near a Jewish supermarket at Wilkinson Avenue and Martin Luther King Dr. in Jersey City, police said.

Detective Joe Seals (Image of Jersey City Police officer released by JC police union)

Guns started firing early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from New York City.

Current active shooting in Jersey City, New JerseyCurrent active shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey ABC News Map Illustration / Google Earth

When the officer arrived on scene, the suspects opened fire with long guns, police said.

Police at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, NJ., Dec. 10, 2019.Police at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, NJ., Dec. 10, 2019.ABC News

Police said a number of illegal guns removed from the streets in recent years, and Seals may have been trying to stop an incident involving such weapons when he got caught up in the gunfire.

Seals, who worked for a unit called Cease Fire, was shot around 12:30 p.m. The gunmen then traveled to another part of the city in a stolen rental van and engaged police in a lengthy shootout.

During the exchange, at least one suspect retreated to the supermarket and allegedly continued to fire at responding officers. Two other police officers were also struck by gunfire, but are in stable condition.

After the other officers retreated, the suspects remained barricaded inside the store, police said.

After the gunfire ceased, the pair was pronounced deceased along with three civilians.

Seals died after he was transported to the hospital for treatment.

“It’s a really tough day for the city of Jersey City,” Mayor Steven Fulop said. Seals “was one of the best officers for getting the most guns off the streets. He was a good cop.”

Police at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, NJ., Dec. 10, 2019.Police at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, NJ., Dec. 10, 2019.ABC News

Police said they were confident the bystanders were shot by the gunmen and not by police.

“Please keep the officers of the Jersey City Police Department in your thoughts and prayers as they work to resolve the situation,” Grewal said. “We remain, as always, extraordinarily grateful for their service and their sacrifice.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has been briefed on the shootout, he said in a statement.

“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.

Police at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, NJ., Dec. 10, 2019.Police at the scene of a shooting in Jersey City, NJ., Dec. 10, 2019.ABC News

President Donald Trump is also monitoring the situation, according to the White House.

Jersey City POBA released the following statement Tuesday night:

“We are heartbroken at the loss of yet another police officer killed in the line of duty. Today it hits us again right here at home in Jersey City.

The officers involved came to work today, like they did every day, seeking to make our city safer. They were ambushed by criminals, one was assassinated.

Despite the warlike situation they were placed in these men and women saved countless lives through their heroic efforts. We are proud of them all.

Detective Joe Seals won’t be returning to his family, his wife and five children are in mourning.

In the coming days many will lament that this is a story that has played out too many times before, right here in our community and in communities all across the country.

Unfortunately, this is not a story, this is the real life cost of being a police officer.

Sadly, this is also the real life cost to a family that loved their husband, father, son, and friend.We ask for and appreciate the continued support of the residents we serve.

Carmine Disbrow, President, JCPOBA.

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