New Jersey Jewish deli shooting's lone survivor describes harrowing escape

The shooting in New Jersey left six people dead, including the two killers.

December 12, 2019, 7:07 PM

As bullets whizzed by within inches of him, David Lax said he dove to the floor of a Jewish deli in Jersey City, New Jersey, and when two suspected killers dressed in black barged through the door with guns blazing, he thought his life was about to end.

"I'm just thankful that I lived to see another day," Lax told ABC News on Thursday, two days after a man and a woman committed what authorities described as an act of domestic terrorism at the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket, fatally shooting three people before police killed them in a hail of gunfire.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said that the suspects were apparently motivated by sentiments of "anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement" and targeted the market shortly after killing a Jersey City police detective, Joseph Seals, 39, the married father of five children, in a nearby cemetery.

Lax said he was at the market about 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, picking up some lunch when he suddenly heard "a lot of big bangs."

PHOTO: A screen grab from CCTV footage shows two shooters exiting a vehicle and shooting into a store in Jersey City, N.J., Dec. 10, 2019.
A screen grab from CCTV footage shows two shooters exiting a vehicle and shooting into a store in Jersey City, N.J., Dec. 10, 2019.
Obtained by ABC News

He said it took him a moment to realize the noise was gunfire.

Lax said that when the attack commenced, he was standing near the front door of the store near the salad bar.

"I thought it's over," he said of his life. "I mean, bullets flying all over."

Investigators identified the shooters as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50.

PHOTO: A demolition and recovery crew works at the scene of the shooting at a Jewish Deli on Dec. 11, 2019, in Jersey City, NJ.
A demolition and recovery crew works at the scene of the shooting at a Jewish Deli on Dec. 11, 2019, in Jersey City, NJ.
Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

"They came to kill, and they didn’t come to spare anyone," Lax said.

Lax and three other people, including two workers and another customer, were inside the store when the attack began. He was the only one to make it out alive.

He said he dove to the floor as the male gunman, Anderson, wielding what authorities described as an AR-15 style rifle, stormed in firing.

"Like everyone, I jumped on the floor," Lax said.

As he tried to hide, one of the shooters dressed in a black raincoat walked by him.

PHOTO: Jersey City shooting suspects David Nathaniel Anderson and Francine Graham are pictured in undated photos released by the office of New Jersey Attorney General.
Jersey City shooting suspects David Nathaniel Anderson and Francine Graham are pictured in undated photos released by the office of New Jersey Attorney General.
New Jersey Attorney General

He said that as the gunman passed, he stood up only to come face-to-face with the second assailant, Graham, who authorities said was holding a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.

Lax said that as Graham swung the barrel of the gun toward him, he managed to push the weapon away and made a beeline for the front door.

"I thank God I had the courage, I had the right mind," Lax said. "I just re-directed her arm and ran out of the store."

He said he ran as fast as he could in a zigzag pattern, dodging the shots being fired at his back.

Lax said that once he made it outside to the street, he encountered a child near a neighboring synagogue.

"He’s very brave, very smart," he said of the child, who appeared to be alone. "We met like on the corner of the street. I was running faster than him, so I passed by him and then I was turning around and I saw him. He started talking to me, so I said, 'You know what, you’re coming with me. So that’s basically it."

Killed inside the store were 33-year-old Mindy Ferencz, the wife of the kosher supermarket owner and mother of five, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a Yeshiva student. Also shot dead was Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, who worked at the store.

PHOTO: Responders work to clean up the scene of a shooting that left multiple dead at a kosher market on Dec. 11, 2019, in Jersey City, NJ.
Responders work to clean up the scene of a shooting that left multiple dead at a kosher market on Dec. 11, 2019, in Jersey City, NJ.
Kevin Hagen/AP

Lax said that when the shooting started, Ferencz was sitting near the cash register, while Rodriguez was in the back of the store. Authorities described Deutsch as a customer.

Lax said that after he and the child were out of harm's way, police arrived on scene and a massive gunbattle erupted.

Grewal said Thursday that "several hundred" shell casings were found at the scene.

Anderson and Graham were both shot to death in an hourslong gunfight with police.

"Obviously, it’s just a miracle ... because as far as I know, it’s hard to miss with a shotgun at such a close range," Lax said of surviving the attack.

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