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Probe of Jersey City shooting leads FBI to arrest pawnshop owner on weapons charge

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/15/2019 Derek Hawkins
a car driving on a rainy day: Police work at the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two assailants around a kosher market in Jersey City © Lloyd Mitchell/Reuters Police work at the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two assailants around a kosher market in Jersey City

The FBI on Saturday arrested a pawnshop owner on a weapons charge after investigators said they found a note with his phone number and business address on one of the shooters in the deadly attack at a kosher market in Jersey City last week.

Searches of Ahmed A-Hady’s home and store in Keyport, N.J., turned up a cache of ammunition and guns, including three “AR-15-style assault rifles” similar to one of the weapons used in the attack, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Officials did not definitively link A-Hady to the shooting but said the searches were “connected to one of the perpetrators.”

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The 35-year-old was charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was slated to appear before a judge in Newark on Monday. Attorney information for A-Hady was not immediately available.

The arrest broadens the web of possible connections that authorities are examining as they investigate the Tuesday rampage, which officials are treating as a potential act of domestic terrorism and a targeted attack on Jersey City’s Jewish community. Authorities said the two shooters expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a collection of groups unaffiliated with mainstream Judaism whose members often preach anti-Semitism.

The assailants began the attack at a cemetery in the southwestern part of Jersey City, fatally shooting veteran police detective Joseph Seals. They then stormed the nearby JC Kosher Supermarket, gunning down co-owner Mindy Ferencz, employee Douglas Miguel Rodriguez and customer Moshe Deutsch.

After an hours-long gun battle with police, the bodies of the shooters — David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — were found among the wreckage.

The pair were armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, two semiautomatic handguns, a .22-caliber handgun and an AR-15 rifle. Officials said Graham legally purchased the .22-caliber handgun and the shotgun in Ohio in 2018, but they did not disclose how she and Anderson obtained the other weapons.

At the scene, investigators found a handwritten note in Anderson’s back pocket containing a phone number and an address for a Keyport pawnshop, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The FBI quickly traced the information back to A-Hady. After interviewing him and two of his relatives, agents searched his store and house, finding six rifles, a shotgun and three handguns, according to the complaint. They also allegedly found 400 rounds of ammunition, including a “large number” of hollow point bullets.

Prosecutors said A-Hady had legally purchased one of the handguns, a .44-caliber Smith and Wesson, in June 2007 but was no longer allowed to own firearms because of a 2012 drug-related conviction. During his interview, they said, A-Hady “admitted to owning” that gun and another weapon “but falsely denied that they were on the premises.”

A-Hady faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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