Garden State Plaza New Jersey Gunman Found Dead
Richard Shoop, a 20-year-old man who stormed a New Jersey mall Monday night with a gun, was found dead by authorities. Shoop fired at least six bullets before he was found at around 3:20 a.m., with a bullet wound to the back of his head. There are no other reported casualties, but the mall will be closed Tuesday, authorities said. Shoop entered the mall shortly after 9 p.m. Monday night, and fired several shots into the air near the mall's Nordstrom store. His whereabouts were unknown for roughly six hours, as the mall went into lockdown while officers searched the 2-million-square-foot shopping center.
According to authorities, it doesn't seem like Shoop intended to shoot anyone other than himself. "We believe that he went in there with the intent to either be shot by police, which we call suicide by cop, or to take his own life, which ultimately he did," said John Molinelli, the Bergen County prosecutor. He apparently had a history of drug abuse, particularly MDMA. Officials also found a note at his home, though they have not disclosed the contents.
"There were thousands of people in this mall at 9:20 tonight, and many of them were within 5 feet from him," Molinelli said. "He clearly had the ability to shoot an individual."
Shoop entered the mall, dressed in all black and a motorcycle helmet, just as it was about to close. "It was almost like when you're watching a horror movie and the killer is walking slowly — that's what it seemed like," Allie Cozic, a mall employee, told CNN. "He was wearing all black — it almost looked like body armor of some kind. As soon as I saw the gun, I just turned and ran."
Many hid out in stores, their fear no doubt amplified by thoughts of Kenya's deadly mall shooting just a month ago. About 100 shoppers were reportedly still in the mall Tuesday morning, unsure of whether it was safe for them to leave.
Photo via Flickr user LancerE.