The U.S. attorney in New Jersey and the head of the local FBI said Monday that the bomb found in the van of alleged domestic terrorists Francine Graham and David Anderson could have killed or maimed people up to five football fields away. They also said there was enough material in the van to make a second bomb.
The officer who died, Det. Joseph Seals, was killed at a cemetery, where authorities said he had gone to meet with a man to talk about the return of a vehicle impounded by police. Details will never be definitive, authorities said, but investigators believe Seals approached the suspects’ van because cops were looking for it in connection with the murder of a livery driver the prior weekend. Cops are still looking into a possible connection between the driver’s death and the terror that was unleashed in Jersey City on Dec. 10.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said of Seals, “We believe he threw off a broader plan,” and that his actions “probably saved dozens if not more lives.” Authorities could not detail what that plan would have been, other than to say that Graham and Anderson had done research on a Jewish community center in Bayonne.
Authorities do not believe a Yeshiva next door to the kosher supermarket was targeted, but said they had cased the grocery store multiple times, including the morning of the attack. Carpenito also confirmed a News 4 report that several days before the shooting, a Jewish man driving near Newark Airport had been shot at; ballistics show two of the shots that hit the man’s car came from one of Anderson and Graham’s guns. The livery driver who died the weekend before the attack was shot with the same weapon that fired on the vehicle near the airport, authorities said.
Officials have said they believe the two attackers identified themselves in the past as Black Hebrew Israelites, a movement whose members have been known to rail against white people and Jews. Authorities have said they have not established a formal link between the pair and the group.
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