Rabbi Shmuely Boteach tweeted “Please pray” as law enforcement scoured a New Jersey mall looking for the gunman who fired shots there while his daughter and wife took cover inside.
Boteach and three of his children were entering the Garden State Plaza in Paramus on Monday night to meet his wife and daughter near closing time when shoppers streamed through the doors shouting that there was a shooter in the mall.
Boteach ran with his children to safety, then called his wife to learn that they were holed up in a storage closest in one of the stores.
“Terror here at garden state mall in NJ and I know people inside. I left with my kids and now outside. Please pray,” Boteach tweeted. He did not indicate that his wife and daughter were among those inside until they were rescued.
Boteach’s wife and daughter were evacuated by a SWAT team about 90 minutes after the shooting began.
The gunman, identified as Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, N.J., entered the mall just before 9:30 p.m. and fired his rifle at random targets, according to officials.
Shoop’s body was found early Tuesday morning in a storage area in the vast mall, which is located about 15 miles from New York City. State officials said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
He reportedly had shot in the air and told mall patrons that he did not want to hurt anyone.
In a personal essay written after the incident and published first by JewishPress.com, Boteach said that newly elected U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a close friend, called as his wife was being rescued to inquire about her well-being. Boteach had texted the New Jersey senator to inform him of the standoff.
“Still can’t sleep. have given up trying,” Boteach tweeted several hours after the incident.