"Dozens and dozens of handguns he's responsible for removing from the street," Police Chief Michael Kelly said

By Robyn Merrett
December 11, 2019 12:49 AM
Fallen Detective Joseph Seals
| Credit: Twitter

Joseph Seals — one of the six people killed during a horrific shooting in Jersey City, New Jersey, is being remembered for his devotion to keeping the community safe.

The deadly encounter occurred on Tuesday when Seals was fatally shot at Bay View Cemetery while conducting a homicide investigation. He was 40.

Following his tragic death, it was revealed that Seals was a married father of five who lived in North Arlington and grew up in Bayonne, according to NJ.com.

In addition to being a family man, Seals worked to put an end to gun violence.

“Dozens and dozens of handguns he’s responsible for removing from the street,” Police Chief Michael Kelly said, according to NJ.com.

Seals was also known as a local hero after saving a woman from a suspect who attempted to sexually assault her in 2008.

The incident took place on Christmas Eve when Seals and his partner climbed through a fire escape and broke through a window to rescue a woman, who was being attacked as she was on the phone with 911, NJ.com reported. Seals and his partner were attacked by the suspect before overpowering him and wrestling him to the ground.

RELATED: Six People Killed in Jersey City Shooting Incident, Including Two Suspects

After years of work, Seals was promoted to detective in November 2017, according to NJ.com. He joined the police force in 2006, USA Today reported.

His death has shaken the community.

“I thought he was a nice guy, and got along well with him,” Seals’ neighbor Anthony Dellisanti told NJ.com.

“It’s so sad. I didn’t even know it was him when I saw it on the news. And then I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s the guy on my street,'” Seals’ other neighborhood Josephine Gonzales told the outlet. “I’ve seen the older son play soccer in the street. And they have little baby, it’s so sad. They were happy kids.”

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also spoke out about Seals’ death saying, “Joe is somebody who is involved in the city, who officers in other precincts knew who he was, because he was a good cop,” ABC 7 NY reported.

“We cried with the family,” Fulop told ABC. “It’s the hardest thing you ever have to see. No one expected Detective Seals not to return home. I’m sure his children expected him to return home.”

Fulop also paid tribute to Seals on Twitter writing, “Today we tragically lost Joe as he was serving the ppl of Jersey City that he volunteered to serve. I know I speak for all the residents that are grateful for all he has done for our city. Rest In Peace.”

After fatally shooting Seals, the suspects fled to a kosher market.

After a police standoff at the store, five people were found dead. Two were suspects and three were civilians. They have not been identified.

In addition to the six people killed, two police officers and one civilian were non-fatally shot and are in stable condition.

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office encouraged people to avoid the area surrounding Martin Luther King Boulevard and Bayview Avenue.

The source previously told PEOPLE police were looking for two suspects who are wearing all black.