PARAMUS, N.J. — A lone gunman, dressed all in black and wearing a black helmet, fired shots in the Garden State Plaza mall on Monday night just before closing time, witnesses said.
None of the witness reported seeing anyone hit by the gunfire.
One witness said the man was “strutting by” and talking to himself as he fired at least five shots.
Althea Brown, 26, of Paterson said she was in Talbots, a clothing store in the mall, when she saw the man walk by.
“He looked at me and kept on walking,” she said. She said she heard three shots, then two more. The man appeared to be wearing body armor, and had the visor of his helmet pulled up as he walked, she said.
Another witness, Shadey Reyes, 24, a Bergen County resident, was working in the J. Crew store when she heard the shots.
“Everyone froze in place,” she said, then ran to the parking lot.
The mall, which was due to close at 9:30 p.m., was surrounded by police cars from Paramus and surrounding communities, grouping mainly in the area around Nordstrom’s. Ambulances were gathered at the west side of the mall. Some employees said they were ordered to stay in their stores behind locked doors until further notice.
An employee at the bareMinerals store said she heard gunshots shortly before the Paramus police ordered the store’s employees to lock the doors and stay inside.
“They told us to stay locked in the room and not to let anyone in,” said the employee, who declined to give her name.
“I heard gunshots,” she added. “I don’t know anything else.”
Another employee, who refused to give his name or the name of the store he worked for, said he heard four shots and hid inside the store. He said a police officer came and ordered him to raise his hands.
“I’m an employee,” he said he told the officer, who then ordered him to come out with his hands up.
He said he and four other employees walked to the front of the store with their hands over their heads and were escorted out of the mall.