Police hunt for gunman after shots fired at N.J. mall

Updated 2:10 a.m. ET Nov. 5, 2013

PARAMUS, N.J. A gunman dressed in black and wearing a motorcycle helmet opened fire Monday night in a popular shopping mall in northern New Jersey, but no one was hurt and the shooter apparently fled the complex as hundreds of law enforcement officers searched for him, police and witnesses said.

Witnesses said multiple shots were fired in the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus around 9:20 p.m., shortly before closing time, CBS New York reported. However, police said later they had found only one shell casing.

Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said late Monday that no one was injured and that police believed the gunman had left the mall.

"There are no injuries whatsoever," the mayor said. "Everybody is not only fine but they are in great hands."

Authorities urged members of the public to stay away from the mall.

As of 1:45 a.m., employees and shoppers continued to exit the mall, reported CBS New York radio station WCBS-AM. An area to pick them was up at the Chili's parking lot adjacent to the mall.

The mall will be closed Tuesday, WCBS learned.

"A single male entered the Garden State Plaza Mall and fired several shots while the shopping mall was still open. He was dressed in black wearing what is believed to be a motorcycle helmet. The weapon has not yet been recovered. No further shots were fired and there are no reported injuries," Paramus police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said in a statement late Monday.

"Many patrons and employees are still in the mall, which remains in lockdown," he said.

It was a terrifying scene for shoppers and store employees. As the shots rang out, CBS New York said, mall security rushed down a second-level hall, telling people, "Get out or you'll die."

Hundreds of law enforcement officers were on the scene, about 20 miles northwest of Manhattan. The mall was on lockdown and at least some people had been evacuated, while others remained hidden inside stores.

Witnesses told CBS New York that the gunman was armed with an assault rifle and walking around in full body armor and a helmet.

A woman who works at a store in the mall told CBS New York that she saw a man carrying a rifle.

"I saw him walk past our door, and he paused for a second and just looked inside the store, and he fired two more (shots)," she said. "He was all dressed in black from head to toe with a helmet, I would say with a motorcycle helmet. I just froze. I didn't want to run, because he might maybe come after me. I just stood there."

A witness tweeted that the shooting occurred by Nordstrom department store on the second floor.

"As I was closing the store, I heard these loud fire-cracking noises. I never heard a gunshot before," an employee at the Michael Kors store who gave his name as Adam told WCBS radio. "I had a customer that shopped before, and she was running back into the store and saying, 'Someone has a gun.' So automatically, I ... started locking the gate and told the staff to go to the back with the customers even in the store."

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