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Paramus, New Jersey - A person with a gun opened fire on Monday evening in a massive New Jersey shopping mall shortly before closing time, leading police to evacuate the mall and search for the shooter, but no injuries were reported, officials said.
The mayor of Paramus, New Jersey, where the Garden State Plaza mall is located, said that one shot had been confirmed. CNN, citing witnesses, reported that the shooter had fired at security cameras.
“We had a confirmed single shot,” Mayor Richard LaBarbiera told reporters.
Thousands of people shopping, dining and at movie theatres were evacuated safely. “Everyone is safe. No one has been injured,” the mayor said.
LaBarbiera added that investigators believed that the shooter had fled the mall, which he said was “no longer an active shooting scene”.
Televised images from outside showed a heavy police presence with dozens of cruisers converging at the mall, located about 30km north-west of New York City.
“Right now the Bergen County SWAT team along with the K-9 unit and other law enforcement are going store by store,” said Jeanne Baratta, chief of staff of the county where the town is located. “It's a very large mall with multiple levels,” she said.
Jonathan Astacio, a witness who was inside the mall, told CNN he heard several shots: “We heard two loud booms... Then we heard two more shots and saw people running.”
One woman who asked Reuters not to disclose what store she was hiding in, reported hearing shots.
“I heard the shooting. We're still stuck in the stock room right now. I personally heard five shots,” said the woman. Afraid the shooter may still be free, she said: “I haven't gone out again.”
Garden State Plaza mall, owned by Australia's Westfield Group, is one of five large malls in Paramus, known as a key shopping destination in the New York Metropolitan area.
The incident comes two months after a group of al-Qaeda-linked militants launched an attack on a mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people.