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New Jersey Mall Shooter Found Dead

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Picture of suspect Richard Shoop (Courtesy: Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli) Picture of suspect Richard Shoop (Courtesy: Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli)

The man suspected of firing shots Monday night inside the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus was found dead inside the building, police in North Jersey announced Tuesday morning.

Authorities say he was found dead around 3:20 a.m. in a storage area of the mall of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Police have identified the gunman as 20-year-old Richard Shoop.

No one else was injured, but the mall was on lockdown for several hours.

There was a massive manhunt for Shoop, who police say walked into the mall at 9:25 p.m. around closing time and opened fire inside, triggering a lockdown and a frantic evacuation.

Police say he was dressed in black and was wearing what looked to be a motorcycle helmet when he started shooting sporadically.

The sound of gunfire sent customers and employees running for their lives, searching for exits and hiding places.

Hundreds of law enforcement including SWAT teams and police with K-9s swarmed the huge mall, which houses more than 300 stores and retailers, going store to store looking for Shoop.

Witnesses described a chaotic and frightening scene, saying they were running for their lives. Amazingly, no one was hurt, but it is a night they will not soon forget.

There were several thousand customers and employees in the mall at the time the drama unfolded.

Tuesday morning, police were going back through the stores and hallways to make sure no one was still inside hiding.

Police say they did find a note left behind by the gunman.

Around 7:30 a.m., the 20-year-old's  body was removed from the mall through the Nordstrom's entrance and placed into a hearse so it could be taken to the Bergen County Medical Examiner's office.

Investigators say they do not believe Shoop, who has a history of drug abuse, ever intended to harm anyone because he did have ample opportunity. They believe his intent was suicide or to be killed by police.

FOX 5 New York's Teresa Priolo reported live from the scene Tuesday morning that she spoke on the phone to a man who was doing construction in the area of the mall where Shoop is believed to have committed suicide. The man was working in the new Foot Action store, between Macy's and Capital Grille, when he heard three loud pops.

The construction worker walked out the door, heard a guard screaming, "Get out of the mall, there is a shooter in the mall, run for your life." He then walked out and said that he immediately made contact with Shoop.

The construction worker looked at him, said he had an angry face and was dressed all in black, but when he spoke said, "I'm not here to hurt anybody. I'm he not here to hurt anybody."

The worker grabbed his men, ran out of the door and then exited through Macy's.

Shoop was carrying a weapon he stole from his brother, some type of modified rifle that appeared to be an AK-47, Priolo reported.

We're told the mall will be closed on Tuesday.

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