Update:Â Authorities in New Jersey say the man who fired shots inside the Garden State Plaza Mall on Monday evening has been found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities say Richard Shoop was found in a back area of the mall.
Luckily, no one suffered after an unidentified man opened fire in a New Jersey shopping mall, officials report.
Thousands of people who were enjoying themselves were evacuated from the Garden State Plaza mall. “Everyone is safe,” Mayor Richard LaBarbiera confrmed.
Numerous images from outside showed a heavy police presence contrlling the mall, which is situated about 20 miles northwest of New York City.
“There is a large police presence at the mall, which was set to close at 9:30 p.m. ET. There are about 20 vehicles both marked and unmarked,” CNN reports.
“The FBI, including an FBI SWAT team, was also on the scene. “There is a massive response from several agencies,” according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.”
The gunman inside Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall hasn’t been found during a sweep of the shopping center by Bergen County SWAT, county Chief of Staff Jeanne Baratta told reporters.
The news comes two months after al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a mall in Nairobi that took lives of 67 people.
Paramus Police Detective Rachel Morgan claimed that some stores in the mall were still closed for shoppers.
“(Police) are moving from store to store to store removing employees and patrons,” she said.
Eddie Kahmann, who works inside the mall, told reporters that he heard 6 or 7 gunshots about 9:20 p.m. ET.
“There was just people running like crazy, so I quickly just closed my doors, ran to the back, turned off all the lights, music and everything, just to stay hidden,” he said.
Allie Cozic, another mall employee, revealed to the local news agency that she saw “someone dressed in all black, carrying a large gun, walk past our store.”
She went on, adding she heard loud bangs about 10 minutes before her store was set to close for the night.
“It was just chaos. Everyone was just kind of running to wherever they could,” Cozic said.
“It was almost like when you’re watching a horror movie and the killer is walking slowly – that’s what it seemed like. He was wearing all black, it almost looked like body armor of some kind. As soon as I saw the gun, I just turned and ran,” she said.
Najee Waters, worked at an H&M clothing store when he heard what sounded like two shots ring out.
“It was frantic. Absolutely chaos,” said Waters, who rushed to a break room at the back of the store, where about a dozen workers gathered before dashing out to the parking lot.
Kimberly Recchia who also works at the mall said she saw a man dressed in black, pointing a rifle toward the ceiling.
“He was just walking slowly towards our side of the end of the mall. Very calm. Didn’t look like he was running or he was in a rush. He was just walking very slowly and calm. He didn’t say anything,” she said.
Recchia hid in a backroom with her manager when she heard more gunshots.
“He was coming closer and closer. The shots were getting louder and louder, but then after those shots we didn’t hear anything else,” she said.
Sources claim that the suspect was shooting out security cameras.
“He was waving at people, doing wise ass things,” a worker at a mall kiosk who gave his name as Michael revealed to reporters. “People were running and screaming. I just ran. It happened so fast.”