Update: The latest on this breaking story is that police have named a suspect. They say 20 year old Richard Shoop of Teaneck NJ is suspected in the shooting. Additionally, police have confirmed that they believe the suspect is no longer in the mall, but many mall workers and shoppers are still on lockdown as of 1:00 a.m. this morning. Shoop has not yet been apprehended. NJ.com reports that the mall will be closed tomorrow. Police are also urging people to stay away from the mall area.
The Garden State Plaza Mall which is located in Paramus, NJ, was put on lock down Monday night after there were reports of gunfire going off there. Police are still searching for the gunman, who is considered on the loose at this hour. The Plaza mall is a popular place to shop and is located in northern New Jersey.
Video feeds showed numerous police cars positioned all around outside the Nordstrom store located inside the mall. The local law enforcement agencies there were not yet releasing any sort of information about the lock down.
Jonathan Astacio, who was a supervisor at one of the other stores at the mall, stated that he heard what sounded like four different gunshots around his store around 9:19 p.m. Mr. Astacio added that he saw police officers going through the mall. He and numerous other employees at the mall were moved into a stockroom.
Other witnesses stated they also heard multiple shots being fired inside the mall shortly before it closed. However, so far police state they have only been able to find one empty shell casing and they are still searching for the gunman. Some said they saw the gunman and that he was armed with an assault rifle. They added he was walking around while dressed in total body armor and wearing a helmet, but none of this has been confirmed as of yet. There have been no reports of injuries at this time.
There have been at least 200 law enforcement officers out on the scene. The mall continues to stay on lock down at this hour and people have now been evacuated. SWAT team units have been reported by eyewitnesses as swarming the mall and going on a store-to-store sweep.
A woman who is employed at the mall said that she saw the gunman and that he was carrying a rifle. She stated he was outfitted all in black and he had his face covered by a ski mask. Other witnesses have reported that the gunman was dressed in full motorcycle gear, a motorcycle helmet, and body armor of some kind.
The witness explained that the alleged shooter came down one of the mall aisles and he was shooting off gunshots with a rifle. She added that she first heard the firing, then she saw the man walking down the aisle, and next she noticed that people was screaming. That was when she took off for a back room. Other witnesses have described the gun as a semi-automatic rifle.
Another witness on the scene tweeted that the shooting had happened by the Nordstrom department store which was located on the mall’s second floor.
Emergency transmissions being sent over the radio stated that authorities were waiting for additional SWAT teams to arrive on the scene.
The mall is located in Bergen County, which is around 20 miles southwest of Manhattan. Police are still searching for the gunman at this hour. There have also been unconfirmed reports that more than one shooter may have been involved in this incident. Stay with us for updates as this situation continues to unfold.
By Kimberly Ruble