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N.J. Mall Gunman Described as Likeable, Sweet

"I don't know what went wrong," said a family friend of Richard Shoop

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Family and friends of the 20-year-old New Jersey man who carried a rifle into a busy mall and began shooting Monday night described him as a likeable guy who held a pizzeria job for four years and was taking college classes. News 4's Pat Battle has the story. (Published Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013)

    Family and friends of the 20-year-old New Jersey man who carried a rifle into a busy mall and began shooting Monday night described him as a likeable guy who held a pizzeria job for four years and was taking college classes.

    No one was hurt in the terrifying shooting Monday night at Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, but thousands fled the mall and hundreds were trapped in the building overnight as police searched for the gunman, Richard Shoop.

    He was eventually found early Tuesday, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    At his family's home about 4 miles from the mall, police found a note, but did not disclose what it said. Authorities were trying to determine what led him to take his brother's gun, a Sig Sauer rifle modified to look like an AK-47, and launch the assault at the mall.

    Aerial Footage: Search for Mall Gunman

    [NY] Aerial Footage from the Garden State Plaza Mall
    Raw footage from the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, N.J., where a gunman opened fire Monday night. (Published Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013)

    Officials said Shoop was a drug user, but gave few other details about him. 

    His brother, Kevin, said Tuesday that the shooting was an act of "self-indulgence," and would not discuss the gun or the alleged drug use. 

    "This was a sporadic act. This was something none of us saw coming," Shoop said. "We are not sure what caused him to do this and we are all devastated."

    "He was a great person," the brother added.

    Others who knew him shed little light on what might have triggered the shooting.

    "He really was a sweet kid," a family friend said outside the home. "I don't know what went wrong."

    Robert Gega, the owner of a Paramus pizzeria where Shoop had worked for four years, said Tuesday that he had not shown up for his shifts on Friday and Saturday.

    Gega said the behavior was so out of the ordinary that he went to Shoop's house to investigate.

    "I called 100 times, he didn't answer -- nothing," Gega said.

    Gega described Shoop as a diligent worker who was taking classes at a local community college and said he was "genuinely very nice."

    Dozens of friends gathered Tuesday night to remember Shoop at a vigil in Teaneck. They held candles and placed flowers at a makeshift memorial for him. 

    Officials said Shoop fired six rounds at the mall, but didn't hit anyone. He struck an elevator, an escalator and several store facades. 

    Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said he was told that Shoop said to people in the mall "don't worry, just get out of the way."

    "And the strong belief is that he had zero intention of bringing harm to anybody but himself," the mayor said.

    --Gus Rosendale contributed to this report.