Fallen Officer Was Married With 5 Kids, Worked A Second Job Putting Down Floors, And Took Protecting His City's Streets Personally


JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Jersey City Police Department responded to Tuesday’s call knowing one of their own had just been gunned down just over a mile away.

Det. Joseph Seals was ambushed by the two attackers that would go on to shoot up a downtown kosher deli, killing three civilians, before being shot dead by responding officers.

Seals, 39, known to everyone as “Joe,” was a 13-year veteran of the Jersey City force. His superiors called him one of the hardest-working men and one of the most instinctive cops on the job.

“Great cop… huge loss,” one Jersey City officer told CBS2’s Chris Wragge on Wednesday.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO THE MEMORIAL FUND FOR DETECTIVE JOSEPH SEALS, CLICK HERE.

Det. Joseph Seals (credit: CBS2)

“He was a cop’s cop. Everyone knew Joe, even the criminals. He was so visible. The bad guys knew what car he drove and avoided him at all costs,” another officer said.

On Wednesday, black and purple bunting was hung outside the JCPD’s South District, where Seals worked. During his time in the department he developed a reputation for getting guns off the streets, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.

MOREJersey City Shooting: Fellow Officers, City Mourn Loss Of Detective Joseph Seals

Seals grew up in Bayonne, where flags flew at half staff in his memory on Wednesday.

He graduated from Bayonne High School in 1997, and despite moving was still active in the community where his mother lives.

“He was very helpful at all the games and activities that he came to. He was a presence there and always was around kids and had his kids involved in everything that we offer here in Bayonne,” said John Rickard, the assistant principal at Bayonne High.

The cost is steep for Seals’ wife, Laura, and their five kids. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop was there to break the news.

“We cried with the family. It’s one of the hardest things that you ever have to see in your entire life,” Fulop said. “Nobody expected, I’m sure, Det. Seals not to return home. I’m sure his children expected him to return home.”

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They meant the world to Joe. He somehow, to the amazement of his colleagues, managed to never miss a game or recital. He put family first. He also held down a second job putting down flooring to earn extra money. He had just moved to a day-side shift a few weeks ago.

“It’s the holiday season and them kids looking for their father to come home and he’s not coming. Don’t make sense to take a life,” Jersey City resident Renee Holmes said.

Bunting was hung outside the precinct of slain Jersey City Det. Joseph Seals. (credit: Andrea Grymes/CBS2)

The loss is significant.

One of Seals’ partners told Wragge, “When it came to the streets of Jersey City, Joe could never turn a blind eye. Tragically, this time it may have gotten him killed.”

Seals was a hero, and CBS2’s great friend, Frank Siller, and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, are stepping up for the Seals family. Wragge spoke with Siller on Wednesday morning and was told an announcement will be made Friday morning on how to help the family in its time of need.

The New Jersey State PBA revealed the funeral arrangements for Det. Seals late Wednesday night. The viewing will take place on Monday, Dec. 16 following by the fallen officer’s funeral on Tuesday in Jersey City.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO THE MEMORIAL FUND FOR DETECTIVE JOSEPH SEALS, CLICK HERE.

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