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Relatives of gunman baffled by N.J. mall shooting

  • Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter Monday in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. AP poto

    Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter Monday in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. AP poto

  • Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • A woman, right, is reunited with a man in the parking lot of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A woman, right, is reunited with a man in the parking lot of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • A man and woman leave the Garden State Plaza Mall with officials standing guard behind them following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A man and woman leave the Garden State Plaza Mall with officials standing guard behind them following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Police cars are parked outside the house where Richard Shoop lived in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Richard Shoop is the 20-year-old gunman who fired multiple shots at at the Garden State Plaza Monday evening, Nov. 4. He was found dead Tuesday of of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries.  (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

    Police cars are parked outside the house where Richard Shoop lived in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Richard Shoop is the 20-year-old gunman who fired multiple shots at at the Garden State Plaza Monday evening, Nov. 4. He was found dead Tuesday of of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

  • An official wearing tactical gear walks outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    An official wearing tactical gear walks outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Two women walk in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall with officials standing guard following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Two women walk in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall with officials standing guard following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Officials stand in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Officials stand in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • An official stands at an entrance to the Garden State Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    An official stands at an entrance to the Garden State Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • An official wearing tactical gear walks outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    An official wearing tactical gear walks outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • A woman runs in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    A woman runs in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • An official, left, wearing tactical gear leads a group of people out of the Garden State Plaza Mall during a lockdown following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    An official, left, wearing tactical gear leads a group of people out of the Garden State Plaza Mall during a lockdown following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • An official, center, wearing tactical gear leads a group of people out of the Garden State Plaza Mall during a lockdown following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    An official, center, wearing tactical gear leads a group of people out of the Garden State Plaza Mall during a lockdown following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Kevin Shoop, right, brother of Richard Shoop, gives a statement to the media outside their home in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Richard Shoop is the 20-year-old gunman who fired multiple shots at at the Garden State Plaza Monday evening, Nov. 4. He was found dead Tuesday of of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries. Kevin Shoop told reporters that he had no advance warning about what Richard intended to do. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

    Kevin Shoop, right, brother of Richard Shoop, gives a statement to the media outside their home in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Richard Shoop is the 20-year-old gunman who fired multiple shots at at the Garden State Plaza Monday evening, Nov. 4. He was found dead Tuesday of of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries. Kevin Shoop told reporters that he had no advance warning about what Richard intended to do. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

  • Erika Ilgenfritz  reacts after leaving flowers by the front door of the home where Richard Shoop lived in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013.  Shoop fired multiple shots inside New Jersey's largest shopping mall Monday, trapping hundreds of customers and employees for hours as police scoured stores for the shooter, who was found dead early Tuesday of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said.   (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

    Erika Ilgenfritz reacts after leaving flowers by the front door of the home where Richard Shoop lived in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013. Shoop fired multiple shots inside New Jersey's largest shopping mall Monday, trapping hundreds of customers and employees for hours as police scoured stores for the shooter, who was found dead early Tuesday of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

  • Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter Monday in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. AP poto
  • Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A woman, right, is reunited with a man in the parking lot of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A man and woman leave the Garden State Plaza Mall with officials standing guard behind them following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Police cars are parked outside the house where Richard Shoop lived in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Richard Shoop is the 20-year-old gunman who fired multiple shots at at the Garden State Plaza Monday evening, Nov. 4. He was found dead Tuesday of of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries.  (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
  • An official wearing tactical gear walks outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Two women walk in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall with officials standing guard following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Officials stand in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • An official stands at an entrance to the Garden State Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • An official wearing tactical gear walks outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A woman runs in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • An official, left, wearing tactical gear leads a group of people out of the Garden State Plaza Mall during a lockdown following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • An official, center, wearing tactical gear leads a group of people out of the Garden State Plaza Mall during a lockdown following reports of a shooter, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Kevin Shoop, right, brother of Richard Shoop, gives a statement to the media outside their home in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Richard Shoop is the 20-year-old gunman who fired multiple shots at at the Garden State Plaza Monday evening, Nov. 4. He was found dead Tuesday of of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries. Kevin Shoop told reporters that he had no advance warning about what Richard intended to do. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
  • Erika Ilgenfritz  reacts after leaving flowers by the front door of the home where Richard Shoop lived in Teaneck, N.J. Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013.  Shoop fired multiple shots inside New Jersey's largest shopping mall Monday, trapping hundreds of customers and employees for hours as police scoured stores for the shooter, who was found dead early Tuesday of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said.   (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
  • Officials wearing tactical gear walk outside of Garden State Plaza Mall following reports of a shooter, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, in Paramus, N.J. Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the mall Monday night after witnesses said multiple shots were fired there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Relatives and friends of a young man who fired shots in New Jersey’s largest mall, trapping terrified shoppers for hours before killing himself, struggled yesterday to reconcile those actions with a person they described as pleasant and well-liked.

Investigators don’t believe the gunman, identified as 20-year-old Richard Shoop, intended to shoot anyone when he began firing at the ceiling and elsewhere at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., about 15 miles northwest of New York City, shortly before the mall closed Monday night. There were no other injuries.

“We think he went in with the intent that he was not going to come out alive,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.

News of Shoop’s suicide stunned friends and relatives. As recently as last week, Shoop had spoken about a potential new job and seemed especially happy about it, according to a woman who said she had known him since they were little.

“He told me that he was going to get a new job at this TV place and he was going to make good money,” Madison Barbarini said. “He told me that he was doing really well and it seemed like he was really happy. Things just don’t add up. Why would he do this? It doesn’t make sense.”

The friend she knew “honestly would never hurt a fly,” Barbarini added.

The suspect’s brother, Kevin Shoop, told reporters outside their home on a quiet suburban block in Teaneck that his brother was “a great person” who was liked by friends and family and gave no advance warning about what he intended to do.

“He just sadly decided to make an act of – an act of, I guess, self-indulgence – by taking his own life publicly,” Kevin Shoop said. “And it’s a tragedy to us all. And we’re going to now handle matters and deal with them.”

Dod Geges, the owner of a pizzeria in Teaneck where Shoop worked for several years, said Shoop didn’t show violent tendencies and “was always sad” when he heard about shootings on TV.

Shoop left an ambiguous note with his family that raised concern, however. Molinelli would not call it a suicide note, but he said it did “express that an end is coming. It could have been prison. . . . It could have been what he did last night. It gave his family reason to reach out to us.”

Gov. Chris Christie called the shooting a wake-up call for lawmakers to focus on mental health issues as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce gun violence.

“Obviously that young man went there to end his own life. We may not be that lucky next time,” Christie said. “We need to get to the root causes of what drives a young man like that to drive to Garden State Plaza in that condition.”

It is not known whether Shoop had any mental health issues. Authorities said he had a known drug problem.

Chaos erupted shortly before the mall’s 9:30 p.m. closing time Monday when authorities said a man dressed in black and wearing a motorcycle helmet fired six shots. Molinelli said the gun, which was modified to look like an AK-47 assault rifle, belonged to Richard Shoop’s brother, who owned it legally and did not give the shooter permission to take it.

At the mall Monday night, witnesses said the sound of gunfire sent customers and employees rushing hysterically for the exits and hiding places at the mall, which remained closed yesterday. Officials said the mall would reopen this morning.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the 2.2 million-square-foot mall, which was put on lockdown. The New Jersey State Police landed a helicopter in the parking lot and SWAT teams with K-9 units initially went through the mall and started evacuating people.

Shoop’s body was discovered about 3:20 a.m. yesterday in a back corridor of the mall, deep within a lower level, in an area that is not accessible to the public, Paramus police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said. Shoop did not work at the mall, he said, and investigators were still trying to determine why he went there.

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