A man entered the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. Monday night with a gun and fired several shots before hiding from police in the mall’s basement and taking his own life some hours later. Authorities identified him as Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, N.J. No one else was injured, but the shots led to mayhem as clerks and customers fled or took shelter:
Chaos erupted shortly before the mall’s 9:30 p.m. closing time when authorities said a man dressed in black and wearing a motorcycle helmet fired six shots. Molinelli said the gun, which was modified to look like an AK-47 assault rifle, belonged to Shoop’s brother, who owned it legally and did not give his brother permission to take it.
Shoop’s body was discovered around 3:20 a.m. Tuesday in a back corridor of the mall, deep within a lower level, in an area that is not accessible to the public, Paramus police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said. Shoop did not work at the mall, he said, and investigators were still trying to determine why he went there.
Witnesses said the sound of gunfire sent customers and employees rushing hysterically for the exits and hiding places at the mall, which will remain closed on Tuesday. . . .
Nick Woods was working in the Lego store when a woman ran by shouting that there was a shooting.
Woods said his supervisor locked them in a back room, along with a man and a child who ran into the store. When they finally peeked out two hours later, he said they saw police officers standing outside and Woods called 911 to ask that the officers be told they were coming out.
He said the emergency operator told him she couldn’t contact individual police officers and that he should walk out with his hands in the air.
“I had to go out of the store shouting at the officers with my hands up, and they turned and pointed their guns at me,” Woods said. “It was one of the scariest experiences of my life.”
The Garden State Plaza, just a few miles west of Manhattan, is among the largest malls in New Jersey, The New York Times reports. Authorities said that Shoop had problems with drugs and was known to law enforcement but did not provide further information about what might have motivated him.