By SAMANTHA HENRY
A Bergen County official says a search is under way inside a northern New Jersey mall for a suspect who fired multiple shots just before closing time.
Bergen County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta tells The Associated Press that authorities believe the suspected shooter is still in the Garden State Plaza Mall early Tuesday. She says SWAT teams are concentrating their search in the northeast corner of the 2.2-million-square-foot mall, near a Nordstrom store.
Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera says the mall remains in lockdown.
Baratta says reports of shots being fired came in shortly before Monday night’s 9:30 p.m. closing time at the mall, one of New Jersey’s largest and most popular.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Multiple shots were fired inside a northern New Jersey mall shortly before closing time Monday night, and there are no reports of fatalities or injuries, a county official said.
Bergen County spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta told The Associated Press that a call went out that shots were had been fired at the Garden State Plaza Mall shortly before the facility’s 9:30 p.m. closing time. She said authorities found one bullet casing.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on a mall, which was put on lockdown. New Jersey State Police landed a helicopter in the parking lot of the 2.2-million square foot facility, 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 11:30 p.m., authorities believed there were still people in the mall, she said.
Jessica Stigliano, 21, of Richfield, told the AP that she was sitting in the mall’s food court when she saw people running and yelling “shots were fired.”
Stigliano 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.”
She did not see a shooter. “It was scary to think that you could be that close to something like that,” Stigliano said.
A manager at Chili’s at Garden State Plaza told the AP 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 17 miles northwest of Manhattan.