Gov. Chris Christie said a suicide inside a shopping mall should be a wake-up call to lawmakers to concentrate on mental health issues as a way to prevent similar incidents.

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

"Obviously that young man went there to end his own life. We may not be that lucky next time," Christie told a group of reporters after casting his ballot in Tuesday's gubernatorial election. "We need to get at some of the root problems of this and we need to deal with folks who have mental issues before they act out or are violent."

Richard Shoop, 20, fired shots inside Garden State Plaza in Paramus on Monday evening but didn't injure anyone. Police said he was found dead early Tuesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It is not known whether Shoop had any mental health issues. Authorities said he had a known drug problem.

Shoop's relatives said Tuesday they had no advance warning of what he intended to do, though Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Shoop left a note for his family in which he conveyed the message that "the end was coming."

Christie said state lawmakers haven't paid enough attention to recommendations made by a task force he formed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings last year.

"It is not the sexiest thing to talk about being more aggressive in the mental health area," he said. "Everybody wants to brandish guns and put them on tables and say, `We're going to ban this or ban that.' I'll tell you the truth, what we have to get to is that every one of these incidents involved a deeply disturbed person who was not getting treatment. We need to get to that and we'll have a better chance of preventing some of these incidents."

Christie, a former U.S. attorney, said he learned after Sept. 11, 2001, that no public place can be completely secure without "taking away everybody's freedom," something he said he opposes.


(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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