Man opens fire in New Jersey mall before killing himself
Centre locked down by police and FBI agents amid ‘frantic’ scenes
Law enforcement officials gather outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a person shooting. Photograph: Kena Betancur/Getty Images
A gunman opened fire in a crowded New Jersey shopping mall late on Monday before killing himself.
The shooting sparked a mass evacuation of the complex by police, who did not realise he was dead for several hours.
The man shot at least six rounds from a modified rifle seemingly at random and without hitting anyone, before turning the gun on himself in a back area of the mall, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told a news conference early today.
Authorities named the dead man as 20-year-old Richard Shoop and said he had a history of drug abuse.
Officials found his body in the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus at about 3.20am local time .
Police backed by dozens of cruisers had earlier evacuated thousands of people from the mall and launched a manhunt after shoppers reported hearing gunshots sometime after 9pm said chief of staff at Bergen County Jeanne Baratta.
Najee Waters (19), of East Rutherford, New Jersey, was at his sales job at an H&M clothing store when he heard what sounded like two shots ring out.
“It was frantic. Absolutely chaos,” said Mr Waters.
He followed a practised emergency plan and rushed to a break room at the back of the shop, where about a dozen workers gathered before dashing out to the parking area.
About 25 customers were in the store at the time. The shooting occurred two months after a group of al-Qaeda-linked militants launched an attack on a mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people.
The Garden State Plaza mall, owned by Australia’s Westfield Group, is one of five large malls in Paramus, located about 30km northwest of New York City and known as a key destination for shoppers.