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Garden State Plaza 911 Calls Reveal Panic, Uncertainty


As the Garden State Plaza reopens following Monday’s shooting, in newly released recordings 911 operators in Paramus can be heard calming callers as Richard Shoop walked through the mall firing away.


Aerial view of the Garden State Plaza in Paramus
Aerial view of the Garden State Plaza in Paramus (7 ABC)

No one was killed or injured during the incident except Shoop, who took his own life several hours later. At the  time, however, callers thought the worst.

Calls came in fast and furious as shots were heard reverberating through the mall. One caller whispered to a 911 caller she was in the bathroom. Another was in an office inside her store. One woman asked for a police escort out of the mall.

Operators quickly realized that something was wrong at the 2million-square-foot mall that houses 300 stores and notified police. “They’re already on their way. Everybody in the county is on their way. Every police department is on their way,” one caller was told.

Callers were told to stay calm and stay in place by operators, who offered to stay on the line. Additional operators were quickly brought into the 911 communication center as word spread about the shooting according to WPIX TV as part of the township’s response plan to such an incident.

Garden State Plaza reopened on Wednesday with an extra police presence paid for by Westfield, the company that owns and operates the mall.

Marine Offers To Help

Cody J. Donovan
Cody J. Donovan (Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

An armed member of the United States Marines, dressed similar to Shoop,  was arrested on Monday night when he came to Garden State Plaza in the midst of the shooting offering to help but was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon

Cary Donovan is a former Marine police officer and a member of the New Milford Ambulance Corp. His lawyer tells the Bergen Record that Donowan was licensed to carry a weapon while with the Marines but not as a civilian in New Jersey. He had earlier assisted with directing traffic in the parking lot but raised suspicion when a police officer noticed he was wearing a black jacket that matched their description of Shoop.

Donovan posted $25,000 bail and was released from the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack on Tuesday.


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