Online posts tied to suspected New Jersey deli shooter pushed anti-Semitic conspiracies
One of the two suspects in Tuesday’s shooting at a kosher deli in Jersey City pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and praised past attacks on Jewish people in New York and killings of police officers, according to social media posts seen by NBC News.
Police identified the suspects, who were also killed in the shootings, as David Anderson and Francine Graham. Police also identified Anderson as a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a designated hate group known to proselytize in the streets about anti-Semitic beliefs, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal also named Anderson and Graham as the prime suspects in the beating death of Michael Rumberger, a 34-year-old Uber driver whose body was found in the trunk of a car over the weekend. Grewal offered no other details on how the crimes might be linked or a motive for Rumberger’s murder.
Multiple years of social media posts connected to Anderson, however, indicate that he appeared to subscribe to a variety of anti-Semitic worldviews and also advocated for violence against police officers.
Two law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told NBC News that a Facebook account with the username “Dawada Maqabath” likely belonged to Anderson. That account was first active in 2016 and is filled with photos believed to be Anderson, identified by facial tattoos, and images of album covers from his music recordings.
The username Dawada Maqabath appears across various other social sites and forums, with posts celebrating violence against police and spreading conspiracy theories about Jewish people.
In August, a user going by the Maqabath username on a video aggregation website posted a comment under a video from radio station Hot97 about Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police officers in 2016. The comment alluded to a well-known conspiracy theory alleging that Jewish people control the government and that police were carrying out an “agenda” as part of an ongoing war.
In May, a user posting under the Maqabath name posted on the same website in the comments section underneath a local ABC affiliate’s report entitled “Police investigate pair of anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn.” The comments advocated that violence be perpetrated on Jewish people in New York by black people, and said black people were “not violent enough” in response to a racist comment from another user.
NBC News found social media and internet posts linked to Anderson and the Maqabath username going back more than seven years. Anderson was prolific online until 2015, when his posting seems to have stopped. In 2014, he was using several online aliases, including Baryon Bloodbourne and AKANapoleonHill to promote hip hop music that he recorded.
In an online bio, Anderson describes growing up in a religious home and joining the army, before “years of dabbling with petty drug dealing and dead-end jobs, brief stints in jail and prison.”
Anderson often criticized law enforcement on his online profiles, and made claims that he had been mistreated during stints in prison.
On the music hosting platform SoundCloud, Anderson’s profile photo was a wanted poster of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who in 2014 shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri.
On Instagram, Anderson posted selfies from the small store he operated out of his van, selling snacks, hats, and other sundries. His final post, in January 2015, was a picture of Jesus as a black man standing in front of a large menorah, a meme popular with Black Hebrew Israelites.
“America has NOTHING for us but DEATH,” he wrote below the post, adding 12 skull emojis.
In 2016, Anderson appeared online again, using his photo but under the Maqabath handle. This username posted in the comments sections of news articles and forums dozens of times to push conspiracies about so-called mind control operations being carried out by government organizations as well as recurring posts labeling Jews as enemies.
Under the name Maqabath, Anderson frequently referred to Gavin Long, a black separatist who killed three police officers and injured four in a 2016 shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Under a video of a man reading Long’s manifesto on YouTube, Maqabath responded in 2016 with a conspiracy theory about police and Israelites, and claimed “there are no innocent cops.”