Reports of shots fired at the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, New Jersey on Monday night led to a massive police operation that ended with the suspect being found dead of an apparent suicide. The mall is one of the largest in the United States.
Police were responding to an "active shooter" situation that began shortly after 9:30 p.m. local time, though as of 11:30 p.m. the active shooter designation was since removed and the situation became a manhunt. The mall was on lockdown for several hours as employees and patrons were evacuated. Despite several shots being fired inside the mall, there appear to be no injuries.
Around 3:20 a.m. police found the suspect, 20-year-old Ryan Shoop of Teaneck, N.J., dead of an apparent gunshot wound. Shoop was found "deep inside" the mall and may been dead for several hours.
What We Know Now:
- Authorities say the shooter had multiple opportunities to kill other people, but apparently chose not to, firing most of his shots at security cameras and an escalator.
- Police found a note at Shoop's family home, but did not reveal its contents.
- Several witnesses described the shooter as wearing a black, motorcycle-style outfit, including a helmet. A witness told News12 that a crew of movers saw the suspect in full gear, and the shooter supposedly told them, "I'm not here for you."
- Authorities suspect that he was using a longarm automatic rifle, possibly an AK-47. CBS News reports that the weapon may have been stolen from the suspect's brother.
- Injuries: according to a spokesperson at the Bergen County Executive's Office, there are no reported injuries to any one other than the shooter.
- The reports drew an enormous police presence to the mall, including state police, Paramus, and Bergen County police, as well as the Bergen County S.W.A.T. team and the K9 unit.
- This is not the only public incident involving guns on Monday. Central Connecticut State University was on lockdown for several hours after reports of a gunman roaming the campus. (No shots were fired.) In Denver, two young men were arrested after they were found inside a middle school, reportedly carrying rifles. They suspects, both juveniles, appeared to have broken into the school after hours, when there were no students present. And in Iowa, police shot and killed a man who led them on a car chase through the campus of Iowa State University.
Speaking to NBC 4, one witness described "a man dressed in all black, including a black helmet," who was allegedly "carrying a rifle and started firing shots inside the mall."
Waiting for loved ones who work inside mall and are locked in. pic.twitter.com/2JyQMs9G7z— Ida Siegal (@idasiegal4ny) November 5, 2013
Kathryn Jean Lopez, a political columnist for National Review, was at the mall on Monday night and one of many who tweeted her experience.
I can't say enough about the kindness and calmness of people here, despite the situation #paramus and professionalism of law enforcement— Kathryn Jean Lopez (@kathrynlopez) November 5, 2013
All things considered I prefer livetweeting homilies, what I often do on twitter #paramus— Kathryn Jean Lopez (@kathrynlopez) November 5, 2013