A man suspected of firing multiple shots at New Jersey’s largest shopping mall has been found dead, authorities said early Tuesday morning.
The body of 20-year-old Richard Shoop of Teaneck was discovered around 3:20 a.m. Tuesday in a closed-off area that is under construction at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
He said Shoop killed himself with the same weapon he used inside the mall and that a note had been found.
“There was no individual that was struck by anything other than Mr. Shoop taking his own life,” Molinelli said. “I do not believe that Mr. Shoop intended to come out of here alive.”
Police swarmed the mall Monday night after authorities said a man dressed in black and wearing what is believed to be a
motorcycle helmet fired multiple shots shortly before 9:30 p.m.
The sound of gunfire sent store employees and customers rushing for exits and hiding places, witnesses said.
“I saw him walk past our door and he paused for a second and just looked inside the store, and he fired two more,” one woman said. “I just froze. I didn’t want to run, because he might maybe come after me. I just stood there.”
“I was in J. Crew and we went to the manager’s office and barricaded ourselves in,” said Jarrett Espinal, who works in the mall.
Many huddled in restrooms, offices and stores as authorities said Shoop made his way through the mall.
“He came to the mall, fired what is at least six rounds at random, striking several different locations in the mall,” Molinelli said. “The bullets were fired into an escalator, into an elevator area. There was some property of retailers that was struck — a façade area — and there were a couple of shots that were shot straight up.”
No one was injured in the incident and Molinelli said it appears Shoop did not intend to shoot anyone inside the mall.
“The reason I say that is because he did have opportunity to shoot people and did not,” he said. “There were a lot of people around him. There were eyewitnesses a few feet from him.””
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Cops say the gun was owned by Shoop’s brother and that he “stole” it earlier in the day.