TODAY   |  November 05, 2013

Suspected gunman found dead inside NJ mall

Authorities say they found the body of the suspected gunman who fired at least six shots inside New Jersey’s Garden State Mall with a modified weapon resembling an AK 47 assault rifle. No other injuries were reported. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> new jersey. a late night shooting at a popular mall that lead to a very chaotic scene. ron allen is there this morning. good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt. it's been a terrifying night out here. there were thousands of people in the mall behind me when a gunman walked in and opened fire. six hours later at 3:20 in the morning police found the body of the gunman in a very difficult part of the mall to reach. he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. new jersey's garden state mall is a shopper's paradise. 300 stores, household names. last night hundreds of police responded to the nightmarish 911 report of a gunman stalking the mall and opening fire.

>> we heard shots and we thought there were fireworks at first and then we saw someone walking by in what looked like a motorcycle helmet and vest.

>> reporter: police identified the gunman at 20-year-old richard shoop, unemployed from a nearby town and said he carried a modified rifle that looked like an ak-47. a legal weapon he had stolen from his brother. police said the gunman had the opportunity to shoot at people in the mall but didn't and that he fired at least six times. some witnesses said they came face to face with him.

>> he just walked past and waved at me with his ak-47 and i was like, wow, god was with me because he could have shot me right there.

>> reporter: inside, confusion and chaos as many fled and escaped while some store managers barricaded themselves and their customers inside.

>> we went in and got into the bathroom and locked the door and we sat there for over three hours waiting because they said don't come out. don't make any noises.

>> reporter: it's a huge mall. 2.5 million square feet of space. his body was found in an area behind a part of the mall under construction.

>> he does have a drug history. he has used drugs but what possessed him to do tonight what he did, no one can really say.

>> reporter: police believe the gunman, shoop, acted alone. they have been going through every inch of the mall to make sure that it's safe. it will not open today or until further notice. everyone is breathing is a sigh of relief.