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Garden State Plaza Gunman Found Dead

NEW JERSEY 101.5

Police confirm the suspected gunman who fired shots inside the Garden State Plaza on Monday night has been found dead in a back room at New Jersey’s largest mall.

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

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A hearse carrying the body of shooter Richard Shoop leaves the Garden State Plaza
A hearse carrying the body of shooter Richard Shoop leaves the Garden State Plaza (WPIX TV)

9:18 a.m. - Richard Shoops’ body has been removed from the mall and driven away in a hearse.

9:08 a.m. - WNBC TV says more than 500 police officers responded to the shooting at 9:20 p.m. Monday night and report that his family’s home is four miles from the mall. “He really was a sweet kid, I don’t know what went wrong,” one of Shoops’ neighbors told the station.

9:00 a.m. - The Garden State Plaza will remain closed today as police continue their  linvestigation. In a statement on their Facebook page, mall management wrote, “First and foremost, the safety of Westfield Garden State Plaza shoppers and employees is paramount and always a priority. The center has been secured, and we are so very grateful that all our customers and employees were safely evacuated.”  The mall will reopen when cleared to do so by law enforcement.

6:52 a.m. - Richard Shoop left a suicide note at his home that “suggested that something was going to happen — that he was either going to be arrested and go to jail or die,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told the Cliffview Pilot. His 23-year-old brother, concerned about his Richard’s recent behavior,  went out looking for his brother last night and when he heard about the mall shooting went straight to police. The Pilot says Shoop was found with his rifle lying on his chest.

Paramus Police Chief Kenneth R. Ehrenberg addresses media
Paramus Police Chief Kenneth R. Ehrenberg addresses media (WABC TV)

4:40 a.m. - Shoop was known to law enforcement in several communities. He was a heavy user of “Mollies.” Shoop’s family has been very co-operative with police. People who were in the mall following the shooting continue to be allowed to leave.

4:25 a.m. - Paramus police chief Kenneth R. Ehrenberg at a press conference confirms that Richard Shoop was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head at 3:20 a.m. by a SWAT team in a mall back room. He was likely there for a while before being discovered.

A suicide note was found in the mall but Ehrenberg would not disclose the contents of the note. The room is in an under construction part of the mall and is not easy to find. Ehrenberg say he was not wearing body armor and was carrying a gun stolen from his brother that looked like an AK-47 but “lawfully modified” that uses a large caliber bullet.  Shoop grew up in Washington Township Bergen County and was familiar with the mall. No indication of mental illness but he did have a drug problem.

Deceased suspect Richard Shoop (Courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

Ehrenberg said that Shoop, during his walk through the mall on Monday night  fired into an escalator/elevator area. Shots were also fired straight up; he was not necessarily looking to kill anyone, firing off a total of 6 rounds. He may have wanted to be killed by a police officer.

Shoop fired shots on first floor in an open area of the mall.

4:08 a.m. - WNBC TV reports that the gunman has been found dead in the basement of the Garden State Plaza from a self-inflicted gunshot. Star-Ledger reporter James Queally tweets that he shot himself in the mall’s Foot Locker store.

3:16 a.m. - The Star Ledger identifies the gunman as 20-year-old Richard Shoop of Teaneck. Earlier, police went to his home but he was not there.The Cliffview Pilot reports that Shoop, a pizza deliveryman, had been feeling suicidal in recent weeks.

3:00 a.m. - The search continues for the lone gunman in the shooting around Garden State Plaza. CBS New York reports a helicopter with a spotlight was flying over the woods that surround the mall. Police continue to search inside the mall as well as he may still be inside.

12:15 a.m. - Garden State Plaza will be closed on Tuesday.

11:55 p.m. – News 12 NJ reports the shooter is believed to be a 20-year-old man

Aerial view of the Garden State Plaza
Aerial view of the Garden State Plaza (Fox 5 New York)

11:34 p.m. - Fox 5 reports that police may know who the gunman is and they are speaking to his family. K-9 dogs are being used in the search of the mall as well.

11:21 p.m.- WABC reports the gunman entered the mall by the JC Penney entrance. Paramus Deputy OEM Coordinator James Tedesco told the Patch of Paramus there are more than 1,000 people still inside the mall. “This is a scene we need to secure and need to get everyone out of the mall safe,” he says.

11:12 p.m. - At a press conference police confirm they found one shell casing and that there are no injuries. The scene is no longer considered an active shooting scene but police are still looking for shooter. Investigators are going through security video tape now.  They could not confirm reports of multiple shots.   Police are working to get those who were stuck inside the mall out.

10:57 p.m. - A number of people can be seen on live video being allowed to exit the mall

10:52 p.m. Bergen County Executive Jeanne Baratta tells News 12 NJ it is believed there is only one gunman. She says police are going store-to-store checking to make sure each store is safe.


Police respond to shooting at Garden State Plaza
Police respond to shooting at Garden State Plaza (News 12 NJ)

Police do not have a suspect in custody  and are moving around the parking lot of the mall as are a SWAT team.

CNN reports no reported injuries and many people are in the mall’s parking lot unable to get to their cars. Many store employees and customers are still hiding inside the mall.

The shots rang out around 9:30 p.m. as the mall was preparing to close. A man wearing body armor was firing the shots using a rifle inside the mall according to the New York Daily News. The man began firing at the Nordstrom end oft he mall. News 12 NJ says some people were hit by the shots.

Witnesses tell the Bergen Record the gunman appeared to “strut” through the mall and be talking to himself. He told some people he wasn’t going hurt them.

A News 12 reporter says one employee told him that police told him to “run or you are going to die.”

CNN reports the gunman started shooting at security cameras as he walked the mall randomly fired.

WABC TV reports a heavy police presence around the mall, the largest in New Jersey along Routes 4 and 17 with around 300 stores and restaurants including Sears, Nordstrom, JC Penney, Macy’s and an Apple store.

“Boom,boom boom”

Aerial view of police at Garden State Plaza
Aerial view of police at Garden State Plaza (Fox 5)

A shopper named Karen told News 12 NJ she was paying for her purchase at a store when she heard the “boom boom boom” of shots being fired. An employee closed the store’s front gate and all inside went to hide in a store room. They called 911 and were told that police were aware of the situation.
A woman who was working inside a mall store told News 12 NJ that they gunman was wearing a helmet with a shield covering his face. She said he was a “tall man.”

This is a breaking story. Check back for updated details.

MORE COVERAGE:

Shoppers outside a mall entrance
Shoppers outside a mall entrance (News 12 NJ)

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