PARAMUS, NJ - Law enforcement officials gather outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter. (GETY IMAGES)
PARAMUS, N.J. - Officials announced that the man suspected of firing several shots inside a northern New Jersey mall was discovered dead in an area of the retail center that was undergoing construction.
During a press conference early Tuesday morning, officials announced the suspect, Richard Shoop, had stolen the rifle he used in the shooting from his brother.
Law enforcement officials had begun to swarm around the mall Monday night after witnesses reported multiple gunshots were fired as stores were preparing to close.
No injuries were reported and the gunman's whereabouts were unknown.
NorthJersey.com reported that witnesses said a man dressed in black and wearing a black helmet fired up to five shots at Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus shortly after 9 p.m.
Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera told reporters, "There have been no injuries. There have been no victims."
LaBarbiera later said investigators think the shooter had left the mall.
Jeanne Baratta, chief of staff to Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, also said there were no reports of injuries. A county SWAT team was going through the mall from store to store, Baratta added.
Baratta told the Associated Press that authorities believe the suspected shooter is still in the mall early Tuesday. She said SWAT members have concentrated their search in the northeast corner of the 2.2-million-square-foot mall, near a Nordstrom store.
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.
Local emergency response director James Tedesco said police had recovered a single shell casing and were checking video from the mall.
Tedesco said authorities were trying to sort through conflicting accounts of the number of shots from those inside the mall. "A lot of people said they heard a lot of things. All we can confirm is one shot," he said.
Diego Garces, 25, of Midland Park N.J. said he was walking through the mall when he heard shots and saw people running. Others were trying to hide. Having been to the mall many times, "I knew where to go to get out but some people didn't. .... I'm glad to be alive," he said.
A manager at Chili's at Garden State Plaza told the Associated Press they were on lockdown and could not leave. She said a manager at Nordstrom ran over to use the phone saying there had been a shooting. She did not say if the Nordstrom manager witnessed it.
Althea Brown, 26, of Paterson told NorthJersey.com 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."
The mall is located in Bergen County, about 22 miles southwest of Manhattan.