PARAMUS, N.J. — A 20-year-old gunman intent on dying fired multiple shots inside New Jersey’s largest shopping mall, trapping hundreds of customers and employees for hours as police scoured stores for the shooter, who was found dead early Tuesday of a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. There were no other injuries.
Investigators do not believe the gunman, identified as Richard Shoop of Teaneck, intended to shoot anyone when he began firing at the ceiling and elsewhere at the Garden State Plaza on Monday night shortly before the mall’s closing time, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
‘‘We think he went in with the intent that he was not going to come out alive,’’ Molinelli said.
He said Shoop was known to authorities and had had a problem with drugs, but he did not elaborate.
The prosecutor said Shoop left an ambiguous note with his family. Although Molinelli would not call it a suicide note, he said it did ‘‘express that an end is coming. It could have been prison. . . . It could have been what he did last night. It gave his family reason to reach out to us.’’
The suspect’s brother, Kevin Shoop, told reporters outside their home on a suburban block in Teaneck that he had no advance warning about what Richard Shoop intended to do.
‘‘He just sadly decided to make an act of — an act of, I guess, self-indulgence — by taking his own life publicly,’’ Kevin Shoop said. ‘‘And it’s a tragedy to us all. And we’re going to now handle matters and deal with them.’’
Kevin Shoop called his brother a great person who was liked by his friends and family.