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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

News Now! | Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus Shooting...

Armed police authorities outside an entrance at the Westfield GSP mall.
Reuters/Ray Stubblebine  |  (image source)
The expansive, upscale Westfield Garden State Plaza shopping center, located only around 12 miles from Manhattan, New York City, found itself (as Paramus, New Jersey mayor Rich LaBarbiera described) "on lockdown" late-Monday night after law enforcement authorities (including the FBI and the Bergen County SWAT team) responded to an interior gunfire report. The earliest time the incident has been described as beginning is at about 9:20PM (EST; UTC-5), ten minutes before the mall's usual closing time, "when the gunman, clad in black body armor and a biker helmet, taunted workers and shoppers as he squeezed the trigger." Other shoppers recall hearing distinct gunfire around that time and "[there] was just people running like crazy, so I quickly just closed my doors, ran to the back, turned off all the lights, music and everything, just to stay hidden," shared one mall store employee, Eddie Kahmann. According to local state news, "Customers inside the mall were reportedly ordered to drop to the floor, and lights inside stores were turned off."

Past midnight, the suspect was identified as 20 year-old, Teaneck-resident, Richard Shoop as authorities swept the entirety of the shopping center while another dispatched team raided his home. Meanwhile through the night, people were evacuated in small groups as the mall continued to be thoroughly searched and cleared space by space. The suspect was subsequently found dead in an area of the mall reserved from the public for construction materials storage, and his time of death was figured at around 3:20AM "from self-inflicted gunshot wound in the head from a rifle." Only one shell casing was found in search yet, though people reported hearing multiple shots (6 to 7); and, indeed, it was later shared that "six rounds hit an elevator, an escalator and several storefronts." It was furthermore surmised he never intended purposeful homicide...just to be perhaps struck down by police in action or by his own hand. There were no other injuries. The weapon involved is a .22-caliber assault-style rifle which the gunman took without the knowledge of his brother who legally owns it. "[Several] witnesses said he had the opportunity to kill them, but that he never [actually] raised his rifle against them." Shoop has been described as having been a troubled guy with a history of drug abuse and rather recent prior incidences with the police involved.

What is of concern to us furthermore at The Sitch on Fitch is that Westfield Garden State Plaza is home to an Abercrombie & Fitch (NJ-ANF; store #10610), an abercrombie kids, and a Hollister Co. (NJ-HCo.; store #30115). It was also home to a RUEHL No.925 store in the past. We can only hope that the teams find peace in mind with what was incontrovertibly a frightening experience so close to their otherwise safe workplace and positive environment.

Westfield Garden State Plaza will remain closed for Tuesday and will reopen on Wednesday, November 6. Keep updated and read more on the case from the NJ state news, (here).



Screenshot of the mall's official website as seen on Tuesday, November 5.