(PARAMUS, N.J.) — The gunman who opened fire inside a New Jersey mall was found dead inside the mall early Tuesday morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Authorities identified the suspect as Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, N.J, and said his body was found in a back area of the mall around 3:20 a.m.
Police discovered his body hours after they say the gunman entered the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall Monday night and fired his weapon at least six times, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said at a Tuesday morning news conference. The gun, described as a modified rifle, was owned lawfully by his brother, police said.
Police are still sweeping the 2.2-million-square-foot building in Paramus to make sure all shoppers and employees evacuated. About 400 people were still inside the mall when police ordered a lockdown of the entire building.
There have been no other reported injuries at this time.
Shoop, according to Molinell, has a history of drug abuse and is known to law enforcement in Bergen County. Molinell said Shoop’s drug of choice was MDMA, also known as “Molly.”
Police found a suicide note at Shoop’s home but did not disclose what was written.
Bergen County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta said the first call came in shortly after 9 p.m. that a gunman was inside the mall. Police initially responded to an “active shooter” alert after reports of multiple shots fired.
Baratta said SWAT teams and other police agencies converged on the mall. Authorities swept the mall because they were unsure the gunman had left.
Panicked shoppers raced toward the exits or hid inside the mall. Witnesses said they saw authorities running inside the mall with their weapons drawn. The mall was immediately placed on lockdown.
Multiple eyewitnesses said the shooter was armed with some kind of rifle, wearing a motorcycle-style helmet and black clothing.
Mall restaurant employee Joseph Rivera said his co-workers saw the suspect “…in full body armor. He had a huge rifle and a helmet on.”
Eric Delgado, 20, was shopping with friends at the mall when heard a gunshot and saw the alleged gunman.
“He had two side arms that were just in holsters and then he just had his shotgun in both of his hands,” Delgado told ABC News.
Delgado described the side arms as small handguns, saying a total of three guns were visible on the alleged gunman.
After Delgado saw the gunman, he, along with seven others, hid in a dressing room for 45 minutes and heard a second gunshot.
“He didn’t seem that he wanted to kill anyone because he clearly could of because there were people two feet in front of him that he could have shot at, but he didn’t shoot at them. Instead he shot towards the ceiling…” Delgado said.
Law enforcement officials have been informed by management of the Garden State Plaza Mall that it will be closed on Tuesday. There is no word on when it will re-open.
The Garden State Plaza Mall, about 25 miles west of New York City, features more than 300 retail stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
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