Jersey City shooting: Thousands mourn slain Det. Joseph Seals at funeral

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- As rain poured down Tuesday, thousands of police officers lined the streets of Jersey City to honor a detective killed last week in what officials are calling a domestic terrorism attack that also left three other civilians dead.

A sea of blue greeted mourners on Bergen Avenue as the hearse carrying fallen Detective Joseph Seals arrived for his funeral.

Seals, a married father of five who was a 13-year veteran of the force, was lauded as a model officer who helped get hundreds of guns off the streets.

He was shot last Tuesday at Bay View Cemetery during a confrontation with two suspects who authorities say would go on to murder three others during an hours-long gun battle with police about a mile away at a kosher market before dying in the shootout.

Family, friends and fellow officers packed St. Aeden's Church, and bagpipes played as Detective Seals' casket was taken into the church.

WATCH: Arrivals for Detective Seals' funeral

Jersey City Director of Public Safety James Shea last week called Seals "the ultimate detective or officer we would point to to tell young officers, 'This is how you should behave.'"

In 2008, he was credited with saving a woman from a sexual assault inside her own home on Christmas Eve.

Retired Jersey City police officer Glenn Gualtieri remembered Seals 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," he said. "And they look to the police to give them a little peace of mind. And Joe did that."

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.

The 40-year-old Jersey City native is survived by his wife and five children, who joined thousands of mourners at Monday's wake at the McLaughlin Funeral Home.

Seals worked his way up through the ranks inside the Jersey City Police Department, starting in the street crimes unit before he was promoted to detective in 2017.

"We could easily fill this room with the people that are alive today because of the police work he did preventing violent crime, removing guns, always seeking to interact with the most dangerous criminals and preventing them from harming our citizens," Shea said. "He loved doing what he did. You know, always a good guy, great father."

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."

Last week, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced it would pay off the Seals' mortgage, and an official official GoFundMe page in support of the Seals family had raised more than $575,000 as of Tuesday morning.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr also attended the funeral.

Services have already 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, David Lax, was shot and wounded but managed to escape.

Related: Victim who survived Jersey City shooting speaks out: 'They came to kill'

Authorities say David Anderson and Francine Graham, who were killed in a shootout with police, had several weapons including AR-15 assault rifles when their bodies were found, and a pipe bomb was found in the U-Haul van they drove to the market. The pair also are believed to have killed a livery driver who was found dead in the trunk of a car in nearby Bayonne the weekend before the kosher market shootings.

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.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

----------
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.