The body of 20-year-old Richard Shoop of Teaneck was discovered around 3:20 a.m. Tuesday in a closed-off area that is under construction at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
"There was no individual that was struck by anything other than Mr. Shoop taking his own life," Molinelli said. "I do not believe that Mr. Shoop intended to come out of here alive."
Police swarmed the mall Monday night after authorities said a man dressed in black and wearing what is believed to be a
motorcycle helmet fired multiple shots shortly before 9:30 p.m.
The sound of gunfire sent store employees and customers rushing for exits and hiding places, witnesses said.
"I saw him walk past our door and he paused for a second and just looked inside the store, and he fired two more," one woman said. "I just froze. I didn't want to run, because he might maybe come after me. I just stood there."
"I was in J. Crew and we went to the manager's office and barricaded ourselves in," said Jarrett Espinal, who works in the mall.
Many huddled in restrooms, offices and stores as authorities said Shoop made his way through the mall.
"He came to the mall, fired what is at least six rounds at random, striking several different locations in the mall," Molinelli said. "The bullets were fired into an escalator, into an elevator area. There was some property of retailers that was struck - a façade area - and there were a couple of shots that were shot straight up."
No one was injured in the incident and Molinelli said it appears Shoop did not intend to shoot anyone inside the mall.
"The reason I say that is because he did have opportunity to shoot people and did not," he said. "There were a lot of people around him. There were eyewitnesses a few feet from him."
Molinelli said the weapon Shoop used was modified to look like an AK-47, but said "it was a lawful weapon owned by his brother," adding investigators believe Shoop stole the gun from his brother earlier in the day.
Paramus Police Kenneth Ehrenberg said Shoop did not work at the mall.
Molinelli said Shoop had a history of drug use and said it appears "the main motive for what he did was suicide." He said investigators have talked with his family.
"We have spoken with the family and we have a pretty good idea of what Mr. Shoop's mindset was over the last day or so and it would be consistent with his actions here," Molinelli said.
Families were being escorted by police to the outskirts of the mall early Tuesday to be reunited with others who had been in the mall for hours.
"We are verifying that there are no customers left in all of the stores," Molinelli said. "We are doing a secondary check to make sure no one is left in there."
Fernando Perez's daughter works at the mall and was trapped inside.
"She called me and told me she heard shots and everyone was panicking," he said, "So I told her just stay put, not make a sound until cops arrive."
The Garden State Plaza Mall is familiar territory for police. They've conducted active shooter drills there in the past.
The mall, which has more than 270 stores, will remain closed on Tuesday.
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