Family, friends of NJ mall gunman shocked, confused at his tragic end

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TEANECK and PARAMUS, N.J. (PIX11) – Garden State Plaza mall shooter Richard Shoop had the firepower to kill many people, in a very crowded place, but instead only shot into the air. That apparent choice to not take lives is consistent with Shoop’s nature, according to his family and friends, but at the same time, a kind nature doesn’t take a loaded rifle into a mall.

The morning after he shot up one of the busiest shopping centers in the country, Shoop’s conflicted personality is very much under discussion and under scrutiny.

My brother intended to harm nobody else but himself,” said Kevin Shoop. His brother Richard stole Kevin’s .22 calber rifle that had been reconfigured to look like an AK-47, and with that weapon fired at least six shots inside the mall at 9:20 P.M. Monday. “He just sadly decided to make an act of, I guess, self-indulgence by taking his own life publicly, and it’s a tragedy to us all,” said Kevin Shoop in a statement in front of the Shoop Family home in Teaneck.

The fact that Richard Shoop only shot into the air when he entered the Garden State Plaza Mall is being called by some people close to him an act of kindness, as well as a cry for attention, both of which, they say, were consistent with his personality.

“He was always the type of kid that wanted everything to be big,” said Anthony Sanchez, a close friend of Shoop since middle school.  Sanchez and others who spoke with PIX11 and who knew the Bergen Community College student who worked three to five days a week at a pizzeria in Teaneck said that Shoop’s choice to end his life in such a potentially violent way just doesn’t match up with his character.

“I’ve never seen him mad,” Sanchez said.  “In the nine to ten years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him mad.”

In fact, one witness inside the mall told police that Shoop had said, while he was shooting, that he didn’t want to shoot people.

Meanwhile, the Bergen County prosecutor said that Shoop’s family told police their son had a history of drug abuse.  His close friends denied that.