JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There was a huge gift given Friday to the family of Jersey City Police Det. Joseph Seals.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced today it will pay off their mortgage before Christmas.
WATCH: Tunnel To Towers Announces Plan To Pay Off Mortgage For Det. Seals’ Family
Det. Seals sacrificed himself Tuesday, shot while confronting the suspects who turned Jersey City into a combat zone. His attackers then drove a stolen U-Haul van to JC Kosher Supermarket and opened fire, killing three other innocent victims and prompting an hours-long shootout.
He leaves behind a wife and five children.
There were tears of gratitude at City Hall as the family accepted what they call a life-changing donation.
“No amount of money will bring Joey back, but to lift the burden of their mortgage off of Laura so she can grieve and raise her children means more to the family than anyone will ever know,” said Justin Smith, Det. Seals’ cousin.
Police are calling Tuesday’s massacre a hate crime, reported CBSN New York’s Jessica Moore. As the FBI continues its investigation, one thing is clear: Without the heroism of Det. Seals and other responding officers who ran toward the gunfire, the death toll would’ve been much higher.
“What we have is evidence that is slowly coming to light of an explosive device in the truck. They had enough ammunition to engage in a gunfight with the police for hours. Everything about it is consistent that they did not intend to harm only four people,” said Jersey City Director of Public Safety James Shea.
Shea says Det. Seals was one of the best officers on the force, the guy he told other cops to model themselves after.
His family will now be able to grieve the hero without a huge financial burden.
“You couldn’t have asked for something better that that. It’s a huge burden. Everybody who has a mortgage knows it’s a burden. And now she doesn’t have to worry about it,” said Smith.
The 13-year veteran was assigned to the city’s cease-fire unit, and the police chief said dozens of guns were taken off the streets under his watch.
“He was a great guy. We grew up together. He was a prankster. You can ask the guys he worked with. He was a great street cop. He loved this city, loved Jersey City and he loved what he did,” Smith said.
His viewing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at the McLaughlin Funeral Home on Pavonia Avenue, followed by a funeral at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Aedan’s Church on Bergen Avenue.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the family.
Frank Siller of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation also announced the foundation will begin paying the mortgages of every single police officer killed in the line of duty around the country.
JERSEY CITY SHOOTING
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- Det. Seals Remembered As A ‘Cop’s Cop,’ Funeral Arrangements Announced
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- CBS2 Journalists Recount Fear Of Being In Harm’s Way
- Barrage Of Gunfire Heard In Jersey City As Police Move On Shooting Suspects
- Photos: Scenes From Jersey City’s Deadly Shootout