PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) - A 20-year-old man suspected of firing multiple shots and causing a lockdown at New Jersey's largest shopping mall has been found dead of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said Tuesday.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the body of Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck was found in a back area of the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus. He said Shoop killed himself with the same weapon he used at the mall and that a note was found.
There were no other injuries.
Paramus Police Kenneth Ehrenberg said Shoop's body was discovered around 3:20 a.m. Tuesday deep within a lower level of the mall that is not a public area. Shoop did not work at the mall, he said, and police are still seeking a motive for the shooting.
Chaos erupted shortly before the mall's 9:30 p.m. closing time on Monday when authorities said a man dressed in black and wearing what is believed to be a motorcycle helmet fired shots. There were no injuries.
Witnesses said the sound of gunfire sent customers and employees rushing hysterically for the exits and hiding places at the mall, which will be closed on Tuesday.
Jessica Stigliano, 21, of Ridgefield, who'd been in the food court, told The Associated Press that she had thought, "Not many people run for their life, but that's what I'm doing right now."
Bergen County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta told the AP that SWAT teams concentrated their search in the northeast corner of the 2.2 million-square-foot mall, near a Nordstrom store, believing the suspect might still be in the mall.
She said authorities found one bullet casing.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall, which was put on lockdown. New Jersey State Police landed a helicopter in the parking lot and SWAT teams with K-9 units went through the mall and evacuated anyone who was still there.
Nick Woods was working in the Lego store when a woman ran by shouting that there was a shooting.
Woods said his supervisor locked them in a back room, along with a man and a child who ran into the store. When they finally peeked out two hours later, he said they saw police officers standing outside and Woods called 911 to ask that the officers be told they were coming out.
He said the emergency operator told him she couldn't contact individual police officers and that he should walk out with his hands in the air.