Falling Store Shelves Triggered Mall Evacuation
Paramus police have determined that the gunshot-like sounds leading to an evacuation of the Garden State Plaza Saturday night were actually caused by falling display shelves in a department store.According to an update posted on the department’s Facebook page, the incident began with a car fire outside Macy’s shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday, causing smoke to drift through the store’s northeast entrance and prompting employees to begin moving patrons away from that part of the store.
“At some point one of the evacuees knocked over a large metal display stanchion located on the main level of Macy’s,” the department post stated. “This large noise, which might have sounded similar to a gun shot, caused a cascade of panic and more people began to quickly evacuate the area. As the crowd rushed from the store on both the main and lower levels of Macys, another display setup, located on the lower level of Macy’s, near the mall entrance, toppled over causing additional large noises.”
Earlier statements from police had theorized that exploding tires from the burning car had been mistaken for gunshots.
The mall and movie theater at the site were expected to be open as usual on Sunday.