PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — Multiple shots were fired inside a northern New Jersey mall shortly before closing time, and the search was on early Tuesday for the suspected shooter, a Bergen County official said. There was no report of injuries.
Bergen County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta told The Associated Press that authorities believe the suspected shooter is still in the Garden State Plaza Mall early Tuesday. She said SWAT teams have concentrated their search in the northeast corner of the 2.2-million-square-foot mall, near a Nordstrom store.
Baratta said a call was received saying shots were fired at the facility shortly before the mall's 9:30 p.m. closing time on Monday.
Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said in a news release early Tuesday that the suspect was dressed in black and was wearing what is believed to be a motorcycle helmet. A weapon has not yet been recovered.
Witnesses said the sound of gunfire sent customers and employees rushing for the exits and hiding places.
Baratta said authorities found one bullet casing.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall, which was put on lockdown. New Jersey State Police landed a helicopter in the parking lot of one of the state's largest and most popular shopping malls.
Baratta said SWAT teams and police with K-9 units were going through the mall and working to evacuate anyone who is still in there. As of early Tuesday, authorities believed there were still people in the mall, she said.
At around 1 a.m. Nordstrom tweeted that everyone in their store had been released safely. "Our thoughts are with those still involved. We hope for a swift resolution," the tweet said.
The mall tweeted its thanks to law enforcement officers a half hour later. "We are sincerely grateful for the rapid response from law enforcement," it said.
Nick Woods was working in the Lego store when a woman ran by shouting that there was a shooting.
Woods said his supervisor locked them in a back room, along with a woman, a man and a child. When they finally peeked out two hours later, he said they saw police officers standing outside and he called 911 to ask that the officers be told they were coming out.
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