JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) — Jersey City honored three police officers on Wednesday who showed tremendous bravery during the deadly shootout at a kosher supermarket got the recognition they deserve.
Officers Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez were two of the first officers on the scene December 10 when the gunmen stormed into the kosher supermarket and opened fire, shortly after killing Det. Joseph Seals.
Their heroics were captured on video as they went to stop the suspects David Anderson and Francine Graham from doing more damage. The suspects rushed to the kosher market on Martin Luther King Boulevard and killed three victims in the store.
But before they arrived, Graham and Anderson had murdered Seals about a mile from the store.
Officers Sanchez, Fernandez and Kendric Jackson were honored for their heroic actions by being promoted to the rank of a detective at a special ceremony.
The three cops are still trying to recover from the trauma but their families were present to recall the terror they felt that day on the streets of Jersey City.
“We were extremely shocked, I was working, I’m a truck driver, when I got the news I was driving a truck, and I just couldn’t drive anymore, I started shaking,” said David Davilla, father of Raymond Sanchez. “I didn’t know exactly what happened with him, all I knew was he got shot, again, we are sorry for the officer who lost his life, but we are extremely proud of our son.”
“It’s imperative we recognize Detective Joseph Seals, whose diligence likely thwarted a larger plan for mass murder,” Mayor Steven Fulop said. “There’s no question that everyone on the police department who responded saved many innocent lives, and I’m extremely grateful for their work to keep our community safe every day.”
Officer Sanchez was shot in the shoulder, and Officer Fernandez was struck in her hand.
“I firmly believe the immediate actions of these three officers who ran towards the gunfire when the first shots rang out forced the two armed criminals to alter their initial plans and played a key role in keeping this tragedy from being larger than the four innocent lives lost that day,” Fulop said.
Officials noted that once more Jersey City police officers arrived on the scene, there were no further civilian injuries.
“They risked their lives to protect the public,” police Chief Michael Kelly said. “To me, that speaks volumes about the makeup of this great department. I’ve never been more proud to be their chief.”