What to Know
- Det. Joseph Seals will be laid to rest Tuesday at Saint Aedan's Church in Jersey City
- The 40-year-old detective was remembered as a hardworking officer who rose through the ranks at JCPD
- Seals is survived by his wife, Laura, and their five children: Hailey, Adrian, Ethan, Isabel and Ivanna
Under gray, chilly and rainy skies, a multitude of mourners --including law enforcement officers from the area and the country -- gathered to say their last goodbyes to Det. Joseph Seals, the Jersey City officer who was gunned down during the deadly shootout last week.
Thousands of law enforcement officers, loved ones and community members flooded the streets Tuesday morning to pay their respects as the hearse made its way -- in a somber procession -- to Saint Aedan's Church in Jersey City for the funeral ceremony.
In a heartbreaking moment, the casket carrying Seals' made its way past his widow and five children.
Outside St. Aedan's Church, retired Jersey City police officer Glenn Gualtieri remembered Seals on Tuesday as being “extremely conscientious, well-liked, a dedicated professional," adding that Seals' mild-mannered demeanor went against the stereotype many have of police officers. He noted that Seals, who was white, served in communities where distrust of the police by minority residents is a fact of life.
“Sometimes in different communities, you’re not always the most popular person, but there are a lot of people who are good people who have nowhere else to turn when it comes to crime, and they look to the police to give them a little peace of mind. And Joe did that,” he said.
Police officers from towns nearby and throughout the country lined up 12 deep for blocks in anticipation of the funeral procession Tuesday. Sgt. Brian Lowe was among four members the Kingston police department, which is about an hour north of New York City, who came to show support.
"It helps out in that it builds a camaraderie, it helps to see that everybody is on the same page, that everybody's there for each other,” he said.
Former Jersey City residents Matthew and Eileen McGinn drove in from the suburbs to stand in the rain across from the church to pay their respects. Both have close ties to the police force through family — Eileen McGinn said her sister-in-law's family “are all Jersey City cops” — or familiarity.
“It's heartbreaking,” Matthew McGinn said. “You can't come from Jersey City, be active in the community and not know police, especially being Irish.”
Tuesday's emotional ceremony was not the only one scheduled to honor Seals. Hundreds waited for hours in the cold on Monday to pay respect to him.
A long line of people, including law enforcement agencies all over the tri-state, showed up Monday to honor Seals at McLaughlin Funeral Home. Lines of people coming to pay their respects stretched around the corner from the funeral home.
In the absence of many JCPD officers who were at Seals' funeral, dozens of officers from surrounding towns and cities volunteered to patrol the streets of Jersey City in show of solidarity.
Seals was remembered as a hardworking officer who rose through the ranks of Jersey City Police Department. He was promoted to detective in the last few years and was assigned to the city's Ceased Fire unit.
The 40-year-old was a leading officer in removing guns from the street of New Jersey and credited with getting rid of "dozens and dozens of handguns," said Chief Mike Kelly.
Seals joined the department in 2006 and gained some press in 2008 after saving a woman from a sexual assault inside her own home on Christmas Eve. He and a partner climbed a fire escape and broke a window, according to an NJ.com report, wrestling the suspect to the ground as he fought with the officers.
According to senior law enforcement officials, the detective was shot and killed by one of the two suspects who were in a U-Haul truck that was possibly linked to a murder in Bayonne.
The suspects fled that scene after the officer was shot and drove over to a kosher market. Three more victims were killed at that scene before the male and female suspects died as well.
Seals is survived by his wife, Laura, and their five children: Hailey, Adrian, Ethan, Isabel and Ivanna.
Funerals already have been held for the other victims killed in the deli: Mindel Ferencz, 31, who co-owned the grocery; 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a rabbinical student from Brooklyn who was shopping there; and store employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49. A fourth person in the store was shot and wounded but managed to escape, authorities have said.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement, and is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.