The first body was found stuffed inside the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car.

It was a brutal crime, a 34-year-old livery driver beaten in the head, his body hidden in a sedan on a residential street in Bayonne, N.J.

But the discovery offered no hint of what was to come.

A bulletin with details about the man's death circulated among local law enforcement. It mentioned a moving van.

On Tuesday, police officer Joe Seals was on duty in nearby Jersey City. He grew up in the area, and joining the force had fulfilled a dream. Two years ago, he made detective.

Seals, 40, was apparently on his way to meet a confidential informant at Bayview Cemetery, where weeds grow thick among the graves. He had been exchanging texts with his mother about Christmas presents for his five children.

By noon, he stopped replying. He had spotted a U-Haul van.

Shortly afterward, Seals was shot dead at the hands of a couple who then carried out an anti-Semitic rampage at a Jersey City kosher market in what officials later declared an act of domestic terrorism.

The attack left three people dead and deeply unnerved the thriving multicultural city across the river from Lower Manhattan. Scores of law enforcement officers engaged in a harrowing firefight with the couple, turning the neighborhood into a combat zone.

The assailants — David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — were both killed, leaving their relatives, friends and authorities trying to understand what set them off.

The two had been dating for a couple of years and seemed to have recently begun a transient lifestyle.

Graham had moved to New Jersey in 2011, when she left the Harlem block she had known all her life and bought a condo in Elizabeth. She had recently left her job as a nurse's aide at a health care center where she worked for 17 years.

Anderson had been in the Army Reserve for four years, during which he repaired fuel and electrical systems. His rap sheet included serving time for weapons charges and threatening to kill a live-in girlfriend.

An aspiring hip-hop producer and performer, Anderson appeared to have created several social media personas, posting under Dawada Maqabath, AKANapoleonHill, Baryon Bloodbourne and Dawad Maccabee.

By 2015, Anderson was ascribing to the ideology of the Black Hebrew Israelites, an extremist sect that thinks of its members as true Israelites, believes Jews are impostors and espouses anti-Semitism.

In October of that year, he reposted a Facebook friend's statement: "I hope you negroes, latinoes, and Native Americans wake up to who you are. According to the bible you are the real Hebrew Israelites. Not those fake jewish people who is really from kahzaria."

Anderson moved in with Graham, and the two could be heard shouting Bible verses together. In 2017, Graham's condo went into foreclosure.

After squatting in the home, the couple disappeared.

New neighbors

In a modest storefront, the JC Kosher Supermarket had become a hub of a newly formed Hasidic Jewish community in Jersey City.

Moishe Ferencz had opened the market a few years ago with his wife, Leah Mindel Ferencz. The two had met through a matchmaker in Monroe, N.Y., and lived for some time in Brooklyn. When cheaper housing drew friends to Jersey City, they followed, wanting more space for their three children.

The arrival of dozens of Hasidic Jews to the predominantly black neighborhood came with tensions. Some longtime residents felt they were being pushed out.

But the Ferenczes took to their new city eagerly, and their market was a boon to an area lacking kosher food. They had a reputation for being compassionate to employees, including Douglas Miguel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 49, had endeared himself to regulars by quickly learning their names and memorizing their favorite snacks. On Tuesday, he was inside the store with the Ferenczes and a handful of customers. Among them was Moshe Deutsch.

A 24-year-old rabbinical student, Deutsch had helped establish a new yeshiva, where he was also a student. A resident of Brooklyn, he happened to be visiting a cousin in the area.

At about 12:15 p.m., Moishe Ferencz stepped out, as he usually did, to head to the synagogue next door. His 33-year-old wife was left tending the store.

'There were bullets flying'

When the U-Haul van pulled up to Bayview Cemetery, there was little way to know what its occupants had in store.

It had been retrofitted with makeshift ballistic panels meant to deflect bullets and was lined with material from bullet-resistant vests.

Inside were five firearms. There was also a pipe bomb and a homemade device to catch shell casings, as well as a rambling manifesto that spoke of a creator.

None of this was apparent to Seals, the officer.

He was not in uniform, and it was unclear whether he called for backup, but he approached the van with 15 years' experience and the reputation of having personally rid the streets of dozens of guns.

Seals was fatally shot in the head and in the arm.

From there, the van headed north, appearing to be in no rush as it ambled along Martin Luther King Drive. It slowed and parked.

Then the van doors flew open.

Anderson sprang out of the driver's seat. He quickly raised a rifle and aimed it at the JC Kosher Supermarket, firing without hesitation while striding across the road.

Graham scurried after Anderson, who had barged into the market.

The neighborhood was soon crawling with authorities from Jersey City, New York City and the FBI. Snipers crouched on rooftops. State police, including assets from the agency's marine services and canine units, were on their way.

A bomb squad from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up, and helicopters whirred overhead. The exchange of gunfire continued in ceaseless succession.

Soon, an armored vehicle appeared and rammed the front of the market. More gunfire. And then, suddenly, a hush.

Anderson and Graham lay dead on the floor. Near them, the bodies of Leah Mindel Ferencz, Rodriguez and Moshe Deutsch.

The terror had ended. The grief would not.