NJ police say mall gunman was target in drug probe
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A man who terrorized shoppers last fall when he fired rifle shots inside an upscale mall before taking his own life knew he was under investigation for selling drugs, police said.
Richard Shoop had been arrested last April for distributing the pure form of ecstasy known as Molly and had sold the drug to an undercover officer a week and a half before the mall shooting, Hackensack Police Director Michael Mordaga said Tuesday. Mordaga said in a statement that Shoop had the drug in his system when he died, and left a note indicating he suspected he was under investigation.
Police suspected Shoop of being involved in attempting to import raw materials from China to manufacture the drug.
The information on Shoop was released along with details of a large-scale drug sweep in northern New Jersey that snared more than 150 people. Among those also arrested was a convicted murderer and sex offender on lifetime parole for raping and murdering two teenage boys.
Security video released a few days after the Nov. 4 mall shooting showed the 20-year-old Shoop wearing a black motorcycle helmet, black clothing, black gloves and a backpack and carrying a gun as shoppers and workers at the Garden State Plaza mall scrambled for cover around closing time. He fired several shots from a gun modified to look like an AK-47 assault rifle.
In some frames of the video shoppers and store workers can be seen crowding at a store entrance and peeking around a door frame into the hallway of the mall before abruptly hurrying back into the store, clutching one another as they ran.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the 2.2 million-square-foot mall, which was put on lockdown. New Jersey State Police landed a helicopter in the parking lot and SWAT teams with dogs initially went through the mall and began evacuating people.
Shoop’s body was discovered in a back corridor, deep within a lower level of the mall in an area not accessible to the public. Investigators said they don’t believe he intended to shoot anyone else.