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(PARAMUS, N.J.) — Police evacuated shoppers and employees from New Jersey’s Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall on Saturday after reports of noise that sounded like gunshots. The disturbance turned out to be a combination of a car fire and metal displays being knocked over.

Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said smoke started entering the mall as a result flames from the vehicle in the parking lot.

“At some point we received a call, people said they heard a loud noise, possibly shots in that area of the mall,” Ehrenberg said. “Nobody saw any gunmen.”

No weapons were found after a precautionary search of the area. Police reportedly found people hiding in bathrooms as many had the initial response of finding a safe place to take cover.

One man described the scene as mass panic.

“Just chaos, that’s one word to describe it,” the shopper said. “I was actually up front at the front of the store and I saw three people running and I was like okay, somebody stole something, but then I see hundreds of people running and screaming.”

The Paramus mall was the scene of a violent suicide in November 2013 during which a gunman fired off rounds before killing himself.


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