PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) – In surveillance video from inside a New Jersey mall where a man fired shots before killing himself last week, a store employee can be seen ducking down, closing the shop’s heavy glass doors, then scrambling toward the back. Moments later, a man dressed in black and carrying a large gun walks slowly past.
Police released 911 calls and videos from several stores Friday inside The Garden State Plaza in Paramus, where authorities say 20-year-old Richard Shoop of Teaneck, N.J., fired several shots inside the mall from a gun modified to look like an AK-47 assault rifle before killing himself. No other injuries were reported during the Nov. 4 shootings.
In the videos, Shoop can be seen wearing a black motorcycle helmet, black clothing, black gloves and a backpack and carrying a gun as shoppers and mall workers scramble for cover.
Shoppers and store workers can be seen crowding at a store entrance and peeking around a door frame into the hallway of the mall before abruptly turning and hurrying back into the store, several clutching one another as they run. Video also shows the gunman walking at a normal pace through the mall corridors, and in one frame, exiting an elevator onto another floor.
Shoop’s body was discovered in a back corridor, deep within a lower level of the mall in an area not accessible to the public. Investigators have said they don’t believe the gunman intended to shoot anyone when he began firing at the ceiling and elsewhere inside the mall shortly before closing time.
Friday, police said they received so many 911 calls the evening of the shooting that they had to add 10 dispatchers to their staff of four in a matter of minutes and had to route some calls to other New Jersey counties, the New York City police and to Pike County in Pennsylvania.
In call after call, dispatchers can be heard instructing callers who don’t seem panicked but are clearly nervous to find a back room within a store or the most secure location available and lock themselves in until police come to get them.
One caller, reporting he has seen a SWAT team enter the mall and asking whether he should remain in place or try to escape, is reassured by a dispatcher that help is on the way.
“There are many, many SWAT teams,” she tells him. “Just stay where you are until police come and get you. Probably half the state police department has sent help.”
Another caller tells a dispatcher he became separated from his wife and newborn baby, who were in another store when shots rang out, and wants to get to her. He is told to remain in place, call his wife, and instruct her to stay locked in wherever she is.
Paramus Communications Coordinator Sean Benson said of the hundreds of calls the department received, most of them came from people inside the mall who were asking for information or instructions, or from family members seeking information about loved ones inside the mall.
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