The wife and five children of Joseph Seals, the Jersey City detective killed during a deadly shootout Tuesday, Dec. 10, will have at least one less burden after his death, as a charity for first responders has stepped up to pay off the mortgage of their home.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which assists first responders and their families, announced their plans to pay for the mortgage on the North Arlington home on Thursday night. Tunnel to Towers representatives held a press conference to formally announce their plans alongside Mayor Steven Fulop at the City Hall council chambers Friday morning.
Seals, 40, was shot and killed Tuesday in Bayview Cemetery when he confronted David Anderson and Francine Graham in their stolen U-Haul van. The pair then went on to massacre three people at a kosher grocery store.
Seals, a 13-year veteran of the department who was assigned to the Cease Fire Unit, bought the North Arlington home in November 2012 for $239,999.
Frank Stiller, the CEO and chairman of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, created in honor of his brother Stephen, a New York City firefighter who died on 9/11, said that the foundation will pay off the mortgage for Seals’s home by Christmas.
The home will be added to Tunnel to Towers’ Fallen First Responder Home Program. The program was started in December 2014 after NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were executed in their patrol car. In the following days, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation raised money to pay off their mortgages.
“Since then, we have paid off the mortgage on the homes of more than 40 families of fallen first responders, ensuring the families of these heroes have been able to stay in their homes,” a representative for Tunnel to Towers said.
Seals’s cousin, Justin Smith, who grew up with him, thanked Stiller for the gesture by Tunnel to Towers and said that Seals’s wife said she was “overwhelmed.”
The public is asked to donate for the mortgage payoff effort at tunnel2towers.org.