NJ mall gunman didn’t want to hurt anyone

The 20-year-old suspected in a New Jersey mall shooting was found dead early Tuesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

The body of Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, was found in a storage area inside the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus about 3:20 a.m., about six hours after the terrifying incident began.

Authorities say the 22-caliber assault-style rifle he fired was legally registered to his brother and that Shoop had taken it without permission, squeezing off at least six shots inside the crowded mall.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the nutjob used all kinds of drugs and had a special fondness for Ecstasy.

“Hard drugs … everything,” Molinelli said. “MDMA [Molly] I think was his drug of choice.”Officials don’t believe Shoop – a pizza deliveryman with a history of drug abuse – intended to hurt anyone other than himself.

Shoop left behind a note suggesting the “end was coming,” Molinelli said. “That could mean going to jail, getting arrested, or it could mean suicide.”

The prosecutor said the gunman’s family also suspected trouble when his brother noticed his gun and motorcycle helmet were missing.

“[The brother] and his girlfriend started driving around looking at certain areas that [Shoop] might be,” Molinelli said.

“They heard on the radio about what was happening here with the active shooter. They suspected it was him. They came, they told us,” he said, adding that they didn’t confirm Shoop was the gunman until they found his body.

The developments concluded a frantic night that left shoppers panicked and scrambling – with the gunman terrorizing the huge mall by casually firing shots in the air.

The situation unfolded at about 9:20 p.m., when the Shoop, clad in black body armor and a biker helmet, taunted workers and shoppers as he squeezed the trigger.

“He was waving at people, doing wise-ass things,” said a worker at a mall kiosk who gave his name as Michael.

“People were running and screaming. I just ran. It happened so fast.”

The crazed gunman did not appear to target specific individuals, instead firing into the air and at security cameras.

“He didn’t take shots at anybody, he was just shooting in the air,” the worker said.

Another witness said the shooter was gently telling people that he wasn’t going to hurt anyone as he fired shots around them.

“He was just walking around the mall telling everybody that he was not going to hurt anybody,” said Samantha Davis, 20.

“He seemed very calm — like the f–king Halloween guy Michael Myers.”

Police worked to clear the two million square feet of mall, located about 15 miles northwest of Manhattan.

A massive manhunt followed the shooting. Cops in body armor swarmed the home in Teaneck, New Jersey, where they were greeted by a pit bull and a man brandishing a screwdriver.

Officials said there was only one confirmed shell casing recovered, but witnesses reported hearing multiple shots.

“I could hear the shots, they sounded like firecrackers going off one after the other,” said Mercedez Heggs, of Clifton, New Jersey.

Heggs, who works at the Uniqlo clothing store, said that security acted quickly to address the situation.

“I made sure to get all my people out off the store then we started running out of the mall with our hands up along with everyone else,” she said.

“Hordes of people in the mall were screaming and running. I didn’t see any blood or injuries thank God.”

Another worker at Uniqlo said they used the bank across the way to hide from the shots.

“We just dropped our things and got going,” said Andrew Flores, 24. “We ran towards Bank of America across the street and used it as a base.

A massive police presence swarmed the mall, as they tried to apprehend the shooter.

“I’ve never seen this many cops before,” Flores said. “There are hundreds of them here. The guy was wearing body armor. It’s insane. This is such a scary situation.”

Inside the Nordstrom close to where the shooting occurred, shoppers and employees huddled inside a stock room for safety.

A Nordstrom employee, however, told The Post that no one in the store was injured.

“Everyone is good,” the employee said. “We’re just waiting for the police to clear us so we could go home.”

The mall will remain closed Tuesday.
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