Pawn shop operator Ahmed A-Hady arrested as Jersey City shooting investigation expands

Eric Larsen and John Bacon, USA TODAY

KEYPORT, N.J. – A pawn shop operator here was arrested on a weapons charge and a van was seized in a town 30 miles away as authorities expanded their investigation into last week's Jersey City shooting rampage now viewed as an act of domestic terrorism.

The white van recovered in the New Jersey city of Orange, 10 miles northwest of Jersey City, was being examined for evidence related to the attack that left six people dead, including the shooters, the FBI said. The van was not the U-Haul the killers drove to the scene, and no information on how the van figured into the attack was released.

Also Saturday, Ahmed A-Hady, 35, was arrested on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement that the FBI seized several weapons and over 400 rounds of ammunition during searches of the Buy N Sell City and A-Hady's home.

David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, murdered a Jersey City police detective at a cemetery before driving a mile to the JC Kosher Supermarket, where they killed three bystanders and commenced a three-hour gunbattle with police, authorities said.

Anderson and Graham died at the scene, where authorities recovered a AR-15-style rifle, a shotgun and two handguns. A handwritten note containing a telephone number ending in 4115 and a Keyport address was recovered from Anderson's right back pants’ pocket, Carpenito said. FBI agents determined that the phone number belonged to A-Hady.

Buy N Sell city, the Keyport pawn shop owned by Ahmed A-Hady, who was charged Saturday with being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm in connection to the Jersey City shooting.

The weapons found in A-Hady's pawn shop and home included three AR-15-style assault rifles, three handguns, and one shotgun, Carpenito said.

Some locals were stunned by A-Hady's arrest. Pritesh Patel has worked at a shop across the street from the pawn business for more than a year and never saw or heard of any trouble.

“It’s usually nice and quiet,” Patel said.

The nature of A-Hady’s relationship to the shooters was not immediately revealed. A-Hady's brother, Adhem A-Hady, told the local CBS-TV station he had never heard of them before the shootings.

"Never heard of them, never seen anything regarding these two people," Adhem A-Hady said. “We don’t sell weapons. We never sold weapons. The only thing that we have in the store is, like, nunchucks.”

Records indicated that A-Hady purchased some of the weapons in 2007. Five years later he was convicted of attempting to obtain drugs by fraud, a crime punishable by more than one year in state prison. That conviction made  A-Hady ineligible to possess a firearm, Carpenito said.

The charge of being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals, 40, Leah Minda Ferencz, 31, Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, 24, and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez Barzola, 49, were all killed in the attack, which state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said last week was being investigated as domestic terrorism.

"We believe the suspects held views that reflected hatred of the Jewish people as well as law enforcement," Grewal said.

Thousands turned out to mourn the victims. Services were held Saturday for Barzola, an Ecuadorian immigrant and Christian who worked at the kosher market. He left behind a wife and child.

"I’m sustained by the love of my daughter and by the love of this man,” said his wife, Martha Freire, who added that she had forgiven the killers. "If I had hatred in my heart, what I’m going through would be worse."

Bacon reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Monsy Alvarado, NorthJersey.com; Joe Strupp and David M. Zimmer, Asbury Park Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jersey City shooting: Pawn shop operator arrested as probe expands