A New Jersey man opened fired inside the state’s largest mall last night (Nov. 4). After several hours surrounded by a heavy police presence, the gunman was found dead as a result of an apparent self-inflicted wound.
Richard Snoop, 20, of Teaneck, entered the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus and began to fire shots from a modified Sig Sauer rifle styled to look like an AK-47 assault weapon. According to reports from NJ.com, a witness says Shoop let off six rounds around 9:20 Monday night with many shoppers still inside the sprawling complex. Police quickly swooped in and evacuated a number of people before instituting a lock-down of the mall.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Moline said at an early morning press conference that Shoop was wearing all black and a black helmet when he entered the mall. Shoop reportedly didn’t take aim at any shoppers, with the Bergen Record reporting that an elevator and and escalator were hit. Shoop’s body was found by an FBI SWAT team around 3:20 a.m. in an area that was said to be under construction and difficult to reach.
Moline also stated that authorities found a note at Shoop’s parents home in Teaneck, but did not reveal what it said nor classified it as a classic suicide note. As many as 400 people were in the mall during the shooting and were locked down in stores until police secured their safety. Some shoppers and employees were still being released from stores inside the mall around 4:30 a.m. this morning.
Around 500 SWAT officers from across the state responded to the call, and was alerted by Shoop’s family that he may be the shooter in question after they discovered his note. National radio reports said that Shoop allegedly had issues with drugs, but friends of the man say he never showed signs of aggression or other issues.
Hi the following pages to see photos of the scene that unfolded at Garden State Plaza.