New Jersey mall shooting: Gunman's body found

Witnesses report seeing a man dressed in black and wearing a helmet firing up to five shots

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The Independent US

The body of a gunman who fired shots in a New Jersey mall has been found by police in the early hours of this morning, authorities have confirmed.

Authorities said he was discovered with a self-inflicted gunshot. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the body of Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, was found in a back area of the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus.

There have been no injuries reported.

Hundreds of police converged on the mall in northern New Jersey after witnesses reported multiple shots being fired shortly before the shopping centre was due to close.

Reports said a man wearing black clothes and a black helmet fired up to five shots at the mall, shortly after 9pm local time (2am GMT), causing customers and employees to run for cover.

The mall has more than 270 stores and is located in Bergen County, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of Manhattan.

Detective Rachel Morgan of the Paramus Police Department said several hundred officers attended the scene, including a SWAT team and and FBI agents. Witnesses in the immediate area reported seeing heavily armoured officers entering and leaving the building in groups of between six and eight.

Jessica Stigliano, 21, of Richfield, New Jersey, said she was sitting in the mall's food court when she saw people running and yelling “shots were fired”.

She said she also began running. She said at the time she was thinking, “Not many people run for their life, but that's what I'm doing right now.”

Nordstrom tweeted that everyone in their store had been released safely at 1am this morning.“Our thoughts are with those still involved. We hope for a swift resolution,” the tweet said.

Althea Brown, 26, of Paterson, told she was in a clothing store when she saw a man walk by and then heard three shots followed by two more. She said he appeared to be wearing body armor and was wearing a helmet with the visor pulled up.

Several frightened customers sent tweets saying they were escorted from the mall by armed state troopers. One woman wrote that she ran from the mall “screaming”.

New Jersey State Police landed a helicopter in the car park of the 2.2-million-sq ft centre, one of New Jersey's largest and most popular shopping malls.

Bergen County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta said one bullet casing had been recovered so far.

Additional reporting by Associated Press