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AC 360 LATER
Shooting at New Jersey Mall
Aired November 4, 2013 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: No reports, as of yet, of any injuries. That's the good news. One report from CNN's Nic Robertson is that the gunman may have left the mall. The bottom line, though, on that, and I want to stress that, we just do not know where this gunman is. And it seems clear that law enforcement does not know and is not sure where this gunman is right now.
Allie Cozic is on the -- is on the phone. She is still inside the mall.
Allie, explain what you first heard when the shots began.
ALLIE COZIC, INSIDE GARDEN STATE PLANT MALL (via phone): I mean, the first thing that we heard was just a loud bang. And at first it almost sounded like someone dropped something and then there was another one. And a few seconds later another one, and people were yelling and just started to run and it was just very chaotic. And no one really knew what was going on.
And then it -- we figured out that it was gunshots and someone went past my store and closed one of our doors and a few seconds later I saw someone walked past my store carrying a large gun and wearing all black.
I didn't see their face. It almost looked like they were wearing some kind of, like, a helmet or a mask. When I saw the gun I really just ran, myself and a few other girls that I'm working with. We locked ourselves in the back of our store and we've still just been on lockdown since then.
COOPER: Allie, you and I talked probably almost an hour ago. Probably about 50 minutes ago. So you are still in the same location with the same people. You -- you wisely have not moved, correct?
COZIC: The only time I've walked out from the back was just kind of to peek out and see what was going on. And I saw some police officers and dogs and it almost looked like a -- like a SWAT team people wearing all black. But I haven't seen any civilians or anyone else in the mall. Just police officers and we're locked in. We're -- again, we're locked in so I don't really know. There is no one coming in our store as of right now so --
COOPER: Allie, I just got some information. I want to give it to you as I'm giving it to our viewers. We are just hearing from police on the scene. They said the shooter is still inside the mall. They believe the shooter is still inside the mall. Whether or not they -- an active shooter, whether or not they have an exact bead on his location we do not know but that is just in to us from police on the scene. They say the shooter is still inside the mall.
How are the -- how are you doing, how are the people you're with doing, Allie?
COZIC: We're all OK. I mean, I feel kind of calm but my body is shaking. It was just very scary and happened so fast that no one really knew what was going on. And I think once it kind of set in and hit us it's very scary. And I never would have expected something like that to happen here.
COOPER: Allie, I'm going to ask you just a bunch of questions. They're very basic and if you don't know the answer just, you know, say what you don't know -- just only -- only say what you actually know for sure.
You said you didn't get -- you couldn't get a look at the shooter's face. Was that because you weren't -- you didn't look very quickly because for obvious reasons you wanted to get to safety or because the face was covered in some way?
COZIC: Honestly it looked like he was wearing, like some kind -- something black over his head. But I -- as soon as I really saw that gun, I like turned. I wasn't really trying to get a good look. All I saw was all black and a large gun.
COOPER: And what appeared to be all black clothing. You said also possibly, and I stress possibly, some sort of bulletproof vest or tactical vest?
COZIC: It could have been. I just saw -- just all black. And I -- it wasn't look like -- I couldn't see any, like, person or any kind of, like, figure of just what -- just the clothes that he was wearing and walked by almost like in slow motion just very calm walking by our store.
COOPER: That must have been so strange. I mean, to see this person just kind of calmly or slowly walking around with a weapon.
COZIC: Yes, and everyone else was running. And that's what was so scary because -- no one knew what was going on. And again it wasn't like -- like continuous firing. It was like a boom and then a couple of seconds and then boom. So at first it almost sounded like someone maybe had popped a balloon or something like that. But then as they started -- as we heard three or four and it got to be about eight and people were running and running into the stores across from us.
And luckily for us there was no customers in our store and no one else came in to our stores so just myself and the few other girls that I'm working with so.
COOPER: Allie, I can also tell you some more information we're just getting in. Again, I'm giving it to our viewers at the same time I'm giving it to you. According to the mayor of Paramus Borough, no injuries. He believes the shooter -- the shooter has left but that's contradictory to what the police have just -- we got the report from the police saying that they believe the shooter is still inside the mall. But the mayor of Paramus Borough saying no injuries, which is certainly some good news in all of this.
Allie, this may be also a stupid question but how soon after the last shot did you actually see this gunman?
COZIC: Within seconds. I'm -- it sounded to me like it was right outside of Nordstrom and my -- the store that I work at is very -- is very close to Nordstrom. So it was almost like -- after he went past my store I heard two more shots.
COOPER: So once you saw him you heard more shots after that?
COZIC: Mm-hmm. Like -- yes, I think it was two. And again I had already grabbed the girls that I work with and we had run to the back and that's what we heard.
COOPER: Did it look like -- was he moving in one particular direction? I mean, you said he was sort of walking around calmly. Was he walking aimlessly or did it look like he was -- I mean, was he walking one direction or kind of --
COZIC: In a straight line down from Nordstrom, the way that our mall is set up. It was almost like he was walking toward Macy's just straight down the hallway that my store is located on. It didn't look like he was going into any stores or like going to a different side. It was just a straight pass.
COOPER: Well, Allie, again, you're doing great. And just stay where you are and stay with the people you're with and just wait until police are actually able to come and get you.
We told Allie, just so you know, we have talked to a number of people who have been evacuated by SWAT teams. So clearly the police are trying to do that. And it seems like they are just going store to store. So just -- you're doing great and just we'll continue to check in with you, Allie. Thank you very much. You stay safe.
I want to bring in Jeanne Baratta. She's chief of staff of Bergen County.
Jeanne, it's good to have you on again at this hour.
JEANNE BARATTA, BERGEN COUNTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Thank you.
COOPER: Jeanne, what have you -- what's the latest information you have?
BARATTA: The latest information I have of about 15 minutes ago is they believe the gunman is still in the mall. Right now, Bergen County SWAT team along with the canine unit and other law enforcement Paramus and state that are on the scene are going store by store. A lot of people hunkered down in some stores, locked themselves in, which is a good thing. And the police are going through the mall right now. It's a very large mall with multiple levels. And they're going store by store getting those people out.
COOPER: As far as you know, the mayor of Paramus Borough has said that a single shell casing was found and reiterated there are no injuries just far as they can tell. Is that your information as well? There are now reports that you know of any injuries.
BARATTA: Yes. Correct. Thank God we have no fatalities, no injuries at this time. We hope it stays that way.
COOPER: That's awesome. That's an extraordinary thing and a very great thing. There had also been a report earlier from the New York state police that the gunman had allegedly shot at security cameras. I'm sure you've heard that. Can you confirm that in any way?
BARATTA: I have heard it also but I cannot confirm it.
COOPER: OK. And at this point, who is in -- do you know who's in charge from a law enforcement standpoint? Is it the state police?
BARATTA: I don't know exactly on the scene who is in charge with it. I know I represent Bergen County and I know that SWAT was deployed immediately along with the Paramus Police Department. But my information is coming from Bergen County SWAT.
COOPER: OK. Well, Jeanne, I know you're incredibly busy. So I'm going to let you go. But we'll check in with you for all the latest information. Appreciate it, Jeanne.
Again, headline right now, according to Jeanne Baratta, as of 15 minutes ago, the latest information they have was they believe the gunman is still inside the mall. That, of course, coming from her law enforcement sources and no reports of any injuries or fatalities as far as she is aware. And that's the very good news that we can report at this moment.
Kevin Flanagan is joining us. Former New York Police detective. He's now with RYDAN Security and Investigations.
You know, it's -- I'm amazed how calm some of these young women are who are -- you know, have locked themselves in the stores, gathered together and kind of hunkered down in the back.
KEVIN FLANAGAN, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes, the one caller said she's calm but her body is trembling because it's a kind of surreal experience. And that's pretty much the way it is for the law enforcement folks that are there as well. They're walking and advancing, making sure that each area that they go to is safe and secure knowing that they may get into an adversarial confrontation.
COOPER: And again, different reports of how many shots were actually fired. Allie is really the only eyewitness who we've been able to talk to, who said that she actually got a glimpse of the shooter. And this is the first image we're getting of this. It looks like a shot from outside from the helicopter of inside the mall. You clearly see a number of law enforcement personnel inside.
Clearly in an area that they feel pretty safe in because they are kind of standing around. You don't see a lot of heavy weaponry drawn. But elsewhere in the mall there are active searches going on right now.
FLANAGAN: Yes, that looks like the front entrance right there. The main entrance there. There was some barriers out on the curbside shape up point.
COOPER: And something -- and something like this, you and I were talking before we went back on the air, at the top of the hour, about the tactical response. They have teams, sort of multiagency teams.
FLANAGAN: Yes. I have information that they actually do active shooting training out there in Paramus with the New Jersey State Police, the Paramus Police Department, and have interagency cooperation and practice these type of things as a cohesive unit. Everybody merges as one cell.
COOPER: Why would they do that? Why have multiple agencies on one tactical team? Is that just -- it makes the organization easier? Radio communication?
FLANAGAN: It is probably inclusive. And frankly if they didn't have that type of response you would have multiple agencies being segregated and put into different parts of the facility. Now you have people, communications to every agency that's directly involved and they're all working together, they're trained together. You are not going to have a crossfire situation, somebody acting differently than somebody else that's on the scene. It's all very well rehearsed and orchestrated.
COOPER: Nic Robertson is live on the scene for us.
Nic, explain what you're seeing as we look at these images. We see a police car, obviously, on the foreground, a lot heavy law enforcement presence outside the mall.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm seeing at least 20 police vehicles where I am outside of Nordstrom store. I was outside JCPenney's earlier. There were at least a dozen or so police vehicles there as well. And circling overhead, coming in low, over the building has been a police helicopter with its searchlight trained on the roof of the building, sweeping that light low across the roof of the building.
It didn't seem to hold up in any one particular spot that gave you an indication that they were searching rather than they'd actually found a specific thing that they were looking for on the roof. But certainly the helicopter making a very close inspection of the roof.
In the car park outside, the atmosphere is a little relaxed would be wrong word to say. It's a tense situation but you don't get the impression that the police officers standing by the door at the moment feel under threat. They're not barricading themselves behind their vehicles. So if the sweep is going you get the impression the sweep is moving away from the front doors behind us here.
To the point that the police in this area feel or appear to feel reasonably secure about their situation. That helicopter coming in low overhead again. Again, you can probably hear it. And I can see the search light on it again beginning to pick up some of the -- some of the roof of the building there -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Nic, I just want to stress, we've talked to Jeanne Baratta who's with the Bergen County team. And she was saying that as of -- that point is 15 minutes ago, so probably about 20, 25 minutes ago. They, law enforcement, believe that the shooter was still inside the building. Couldn't confirm it, couldn't say 100 percent that's the case but that was the belief according to Jeanne Baratta with Bergen County officials that about -- as about 20 minutes ago the shooter was still inside and importantly, Nic, in case you haven't heard, no injuries as far as they can tell at this moment.
And that is certainly some good news. But it's obviously a very tense, very trying situation. This all occurred if you are just joining our coverage, this really began around -- at 9:20 when the shots began.
Let's listen to WABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he was shooting up the cameras of the mall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All right, guys, sorry about that audio issue. But let me show you something that's going on right now. You see the people walking out of the mall? Those are customers. Those are staff members who are finally being let out of the mall. Imagine just how scary it was to be locked down inside there.
Again, we are learning from officials here just outside of the mall that these people were locked down in certain areas of the mall and that they were completely safe because police officers were in there, locking down certain blocks of the mall as they continued to look for the shooter.
But, again, they are telling us, this is not an active shooting but that right now they are still looking for the shooter and still looking for that weapon as well as reviewing security cameras here at the mall. Back to you, Bill and -- and Sandra.
COOPER: That's a live report from our affiliate, WABC. We were just talking to Nic Robertson before.
Again, the shooting began around 9:20. A number of shots rang out. No reports right now of any fatalities and/or injuries. That's certainly good news. But believed as of 20 minutes ago according to officials from Bergen County that the shooter is still inside the building. Obviously that search is underway and clearly a search of the video cameras, the security cameras, to try to see exactly what path the shooter took.
One report, Allie, a young woman hunkered down in a store currently, said she saw the shooter basically walking calmly, walking not particularly fast, while everyone else was running, but walking a straight line away from the Nordstrom where she believes the shooting began.
And I should just point out for our viewers who are joining us. We have talked to a number of eyewitnesses and audio witnesses, people have heard the shooting who are still hunkered down in stores, and have made a point -- I talked to everyone of them -- that they do not, we do not want them to give their location. We do not want them to say what store they're in or where exactly they are, for obvious security reasons.
So we were just -- we're trying to be as cautious as we can and also not get down the road of any speculation. There's multiple different, you know, accounts of how many shots were fired. We cannot give you any accurate number. But again, according to officials, as of 20 minutes ago, no fatalities, no injuries. But they believe the shooter is still in the building.
It looked early, we just saw what looked like a robot vehicle approaching one location. We're going to take a -- there you -- yes, clearly. That's obviously some sort of -- obviously --
FLANAGAN: Yes, camera.
COOPER: Remote-controlled camera --
FLANAGAN: Remote-controlled camera device.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in just a moment.
COOPER: Hey, good evening, welcome back. Our breaking news.
Massive police presence obviously at the Garden State Plaza, a mega mall, about 25 minutes west of Manhattan. Witnesses report shots fired, multiple shots starting around 9:20 p.m. Eastern Time. We spoke to a number of witnesses inside the mall, some of whom are still inside the mall, hunkered down in locations which we're not giving out inside stores.
No reports, thankfully, of any injuries. Unclear whether or not the gunman is still inside. We talked to an official from Bergen County about -- well, about 30 minutes ago, who said as of 30 minutes ago she believes, it's their understanding that the shooter is still inside the mall. But again, they can't say 100 percent for sure.
Just moments ago local officials did speak with reporters, the Bergen County deputy EMS coordinator and the mayor of Paramus Borough. Here's what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM TEDESCO, DEPUTY COORDINATOR, OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: County police, county sheriff, state police, FBI, I believe -- I believe that's all. There may be -- there may be more. But right now, the mall is in a complete lockdown. No one is going in. No one is going out unless they are escorted by police personnel. As we get more information we will release that information to you.
Mayor? Jim Tedesco, T-E-D-E-S-C-O, deputy coordinator, Office of Emergency Management. Mayor?
MAYOR RICHARD LABARBIERA, BOROUGH OF PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY: Good evening. My name is Rich Labarbiera, mayor of Borough of Paramus.
As Jim Tedesco said we had a confirmed single shot. Everyone is safe. No one has been injured. Right now we have police agencies from all over the state who are now going through the mall sweeping to ensure that whatever people are in the mall at this time, it is locked down, are evacuated in a safe and orderly way.
I want to let everybody know that this is something that we trained for. Every police agency is working hand in hand to evacuate the people in a safe and orderly way.
I again want to ensure that there has been no injuries. That there has been no victims and we are now searching the mall and sweeping it.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Searching for shooter?
LABARBIERA: We are searching for a shooter. The person that shot this single shot.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And the other shooters? One or multiple?
TEDESCO: Let me -- let me make sure you understand.
TEDESCO: What we're doing is we're making sure that there are no other people that are tied to this inside the mall. The shooter, we believe, has been -- has left the mall. We have found shell casings and that's what we're looking for, try to understand and try to identify where the shooter actually went throughout the mall.
LABARBIERA: That is correct.
TEDESCO: He has not been found here in the mall.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you saying shell cases as in plural?
LABARBIERA: Single shell casings --
TEDESCO: Right. Single -- a single shell casing right now.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it true that the shooter's family member might be here?
TEDESCO: I can't tell you that.
LABARBIERA: No comment.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know what he was aiming at?
LABARBIERA: We have no idea at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To be clear, the shooter is not apprehended at this point?
LABARBIERA: That's correct.
TEDESCO: The shooter is not apprehended at this time. Correct.
LABARBIERA: And no longer is it an active shooting scene.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Several people said they heard three or four pops.
TEDESCO: Yes. We have reports. And you have to understand, there's thousands of people in this mall. And so as this started to develop there are many people that said they heard a lot of things. We have detectives interviewing multiple people right now trying to determine exactly what the scenario was.
All -- all we can confirm right now is we found one shell casing, which I believe was from a long-arm rifle. That's all I can tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you recovered video of the shooter?
LABARBIERA: We're going through that.
TEDESCO: We are going through video right now. Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any truth to some of the security -- a security camera being shot at?
TEDESCO: I'm not aware that that is -- that was -- that actually happened, no. But we -- this mall is equipped with the most sophisticated technology in regards to identification, people identification. And that's what we're going through frame by frame. And we are reviewing that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But to make it clear for anybody who's at home and who is worried right now --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Anybody hurt?
TEDESCO: No injuries.
LABARBIERA: No injury. And that's what want, assure any family members that our home whose family member, friend, et cetera, could be at the mall this evening. I want to assure all of them that there has been zero injuries at this mall this evening.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about -- what are folks around here? Who live around here? Or should they be concerned? Should they be keeping their doors locked?
LABARBIERA: I can't comment on that.
TEDESCO: I would say that there is enough police presence in this area to make sure that people are safe. So I wouldn't think -- I wouldn't believe that that should be -- that should be an issue for people that live in the area, no.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Jim, the one shot, do you know who or what the shooter was aiming or shooting at?
TEDESCO: I -- no, I cannot comment on that, no.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe that --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are any bullet holes that were found?
TEDESCO: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any bullet holes in any --
TEDESCO: No. All we have found right now -- you have to understand that we still have thousands of people inside this mall that we are trying to handle. And that's our primary concern. Making sure everybody is safe. Because once that happens we will then take care of the rest of the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. That was the mayor of Paramus Borough and the local EMS coordinator, giving a press conference a couple of minutes ago.
Now the EMS coordinator said they believe that the shooter is on the move, is no longer inside the mall. That is contradicted by what an official from Bergen County said they believed as of 30 or 40 minutes ago.
So, again, these are early reports as we always say and conflicting reports. And that's part of the confusing thing for police on the scene. They do not know -- we do not know whether or not the shooter is inside the building or has left the building which would obviously be even greater concern because then it becomes a much wider operation and a much different operation.
An eyewitness who saw the shooter spoke with CNN affiliate WABC a short time ago. Here's that interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started hearing shootings in the corridor of the mall. And I just saw a guy walking very calmly in a black suit having some kind of a backpack that contained -- looked like he had two red gas balloons on him, on his back, and he was having a rifle with a helmet, walking with a very dark black suit, five feet tall, something like this. And he was walking very calmly and just shooting and people are running all around. And I just basically went to the back of the store.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you describe the black suit? Like a tactical suit or?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked -- yes, it looked like he was very well equipped. I mean, he walked very calmly. It was very bizarre because he was just shooting up the -- I think it was that he was shooting up the cameras of the mall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Again, so you hear from the eyewitness saying she believes he was shooting at the cameras in the mall. The EMS coordinator saying they do not have confirmed reports of that, although there have been multiple reports of that.
The EMS coordinator said they have confirmed one shot. But we have multiple people who are inside the mall -- currently still inside the mall, who said they heard anywhere from four to eight shots. So there's still a lot we don't know. I just want to be very upfront. I don't want to give out any false reports.
A lot -- you know, eyewitness testimony is very unreliable and people in panic and when adrenaline starts pumping the shots going off, that adrenalin spikes, your start to hear things differently and you start to see things very differently.
HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks is joining us on the phone. We're also here with Kevin Flanagan, former NYPD detective who's now with RYDAN Security and Investigations.
Mike, in terms of this operation, this is a huge mall. I was just looking up some of the stats, 311 different retailers inside this mall. Over two million square feet of retail space, 10,774 parking spaces. This is a huge area for law enforcement to try to -- to try to cover.
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via phone): It is, Anderson. And one of the key things right now the law enforcement who have -- I know they most likely here in Paramus have trained on this mall before for an active shooter. Most law enforcement agencies do. But the main thing right now is to try to get that surveillance video of exactly what happened inside.
Even though somebody is shooting at the cameras, that doesn't make any difference. They're still going to have law enforcement are going to have surveillance video of what happened inside and try to put together a timeline, where the shooter, if he or she was by themselves, where they came in, exactly what their movement was.
We heard somebody just moments ago said that they found one shell casing from a -- you know, this sounds like from a rifle. OK. Well, that's fine, but where did this person go? Is this person still inside the mall? How did this person get there? Because they're going to have cameras outside, in the parking lot, Anderson, and also inside.
And that's what's very important. And you know, there is a lot of other technologies to have inside some of these malls that is very, very important for them to get right now to take a look at to find out, OK, where is this person? Is the shooter -- has this active shooter left the mall? Where this person went if they did leave the mall? And, you know, that's one of the main things right now that law enforcement needs to get in touch with the security inside the mall and I'm sure they already have.
So, I mean, you know, we see this all the time. But, you know, it's closing time at the mall. Because right now it's 11:29 Eastern. So it's at the end of the stores where they're closing. We see right here. You've got triage areas here, you stood here, with the red, the yellow, and the green in case there are injured people.
You've got this. They've been -- they practiced this numerous times. So they know what they're doing by what's going on.
COOPER: And, Mike --
BROOKS: They were firing up, Anderson.
COOPER: Mike, we're also now just getting another interview from WPIX.. I want to give that one of our players, let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: My height give or take? About 5'8", 5'9"?
JOHNNY JIMINEZ, WITNESS: Yes. Literally like, just looking like, just looking like very similar to me in way. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Combat boots? What kind of shoes? JIMINEZ: Boots, book, like maybe construction boots. Again, I really don't want to go into detail because I didn't care about -- if I would have known at that moment that those were the guys, you know, that were going to cause all this, I would tell everything. I would have like, you know, taken a mental picture.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But trust me. You are giving us a pretty good account.
JIMINEZ: Yes. Well, hopefully. OK. So is there anything else? This one kind of trips me out a little bit. So -- all right. So we're in the AT&T store and we come out. Now this is -- by we I mean three people. There's a third back there. Employees and clients and random people that were in the hallway. So we go out, me and these three guys, just checking out because people are kind of making jokes on, I got to get home, and I was like, really like I got to get home.
You know, let's see what's going on so we kind of walked out, creeped out a little bit, and then we just don't really see anything. It looks pretty calm. We get all the way to the window of the AT&T store. And we see like some two dudes over there. Some guys. They could have been -- they could have been like put the five guys, they could have been them, no guns. I didn't see any guns on them because I was looking for a gun at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It looked like they were with the gunman?
JIMINEZ: They looked like they could have possibly been the guys that were with the gunman, right? So all right, so at this point, OK, so, god. Wait. Where was I in the story. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You saw the guys standing over against the wall.
JIMINEZ: OK. Yes. So they cut the corner real quick and then, like, literally seconds after, like a guy dressed like here, like dressed like the security people right here literally. It may have been him. And literally goes two gunmen get in the store. So we literally gone in the store and it was like another 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. I mean, I don't know why, I don't know why we did the things we did, because we came back out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many shots did you hear?
JIMINEZ: How many shots did I hear or see?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Both.
JIMINEZ: OK. See, we're talking about a semi-automatic rifle here. So, I mean, how -- how many, you know, rounds came up or how many triggered pulled? Two seen and a shotgun, which is what makes me -- makes people believe that there's another person. Two -- three total shotgun shots. They were not -- they were not that. They were boom and then another boom and then another last boom right after that, right after the second one and then glass everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you were able to differentiate between the sound of a shotgun blast and that assault rifle fire?
JIMINEZ: Yes. And I don't think that's just being in Navy. I think that's like a -- a pretty obvious, a pretty evident thing that would notice if you would have been there. It's just one was a boom and the other one is like, you know what I'm saying? One was a loud spread. They were both ridiculously loud.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you see anyone hurt or injured?
JIMINEZ: No, I didn't see anyone hurt and I -- he didn't shoot the gun again. I did seem him -- like he looked in our direction. We were a little -- a little bit farther from him and some of the people that he looked at with his -- with his helmet. Didn't shoot anybody. Didn't shoot a single person.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he ever aim the weapon at someone?
JIMINEZ: No. Not that I saw. Not that I saw.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What kind of helmet?
JIMINEZ: Black with a visor, couldn't see his eyes, or else I would have seen his eyes if it was a clear visor.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A tinted visor.
JIMINEZ: Tinted visor, black color.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What color helmet? Black helmet?
JIMINEZ: Black. Black. His attire was black. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All black?
JIMINEZ: Yes. And like I said, I'm pretty sure he had gloves on, too. Some sort of gloves, like maybe climbing globes, baseball gloves, I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So at some point you saw them when they didn't have any of the gloves or the mask or the helmet on and then they suited up at some point and then started firing?
JIMINEZ: One suited up. Again, when I heard --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: One suited up.
JIMINEZ: The shotguns I don't know if there was another guy with a helmet walking around with a shotgun. You know? So that could have been very well what happened. But when I did see them I didn't know it but now that I look back on it, that was obviously a briefing or some -- or some sort of briefing and then --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were they walking toward a specific direction?
JIMINEZ: We were on --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were they walking toward Nordstrom? Were they walking toward Macy's?
JIMINEZ: We went into the -- we went into Nordstrom. We were at the kiosk where my phone is getting fixed, right by the Apple store in the first floor. Went up to the Apple store for a quick second, went back down to the -- by the kiosk where I was, cut that corner, and -- by AT&T so now you know where I was exactly, OK? So by AT&T and the Apple store, this is where it all happened. And he was coming down from the Apple store, where he was with his buddies, coming down, literally the guy that had my phone saw him. But he had the helmet on already at that point and he was already shooting at that point his semiautomatic rifle, though.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In the air.
JIMINEZ: At -- I asked the guy who fixed my phone, found him earlier. He said he wasn't shooting anybody. Didn't point the gun at anybody. He was shooting the cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could you tell where he was headed?
JIMINEZ: Towards me. Because he saw me.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: No, no. In what direction?
JIMINEZ: Towards -- no, honesty, at that moment, I was so scared. I mean, I had nothing on me to protection myself and this was completely real. You know, what everyone's worst fear was, was completely real.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes.
JIMINEZ: And it was mind-boggling to say the least.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is not your first-- say it again?
JIMINEZ: It was mind blowing to say the least. And this is not my first --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is not your first time at this mall?
JIMINEZ: No, no, no. It's not. No.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you know what this like here, busy, peaceful.
JIMINEZ: Yes. Yes. No, it's a nice area. You've got Bergen County, you've got some people from state that come here. It's -- honestly, this is a nice area. People just trying to do their shopping. A lot of good people. I've never heard or seen or, you know, ever experience anything like this, you know. This is crazy. Completely crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tell me your name again?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Johnny Jiminez? JIMINEZ: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I appreciate your time.
JIMINEZ: No problem. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Good luck to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right. That was a young man, Johnny Jiminez, being interviewed by our affiliate WPIX.
What he says, frankly, this could change the situation or our knowledge of it. And again, that's one eyewitness. But it -- according to that person from what we can make out and frankly, I want to re-rack that tape and maybe you can replay it because he seemed to be indicating that the alleged gunman or the person he believed was a gunman was with a number of people -- I think he indicated up at an Apple store. And then the alleged gunman suited up I believe was his words, putting on some sort of a helmet with a tinted visor.
Probably not as some sort of -- that would seem to indicate sort of a motorcycle helmet as oppose to a tactical helmet with some sort of a bullet proof clear visor because you wouldn't have a tinted visor if you're wearing a tactical helmet. And some sort of climbing gloves and then he says he saw a person shooting up in the air, possibly at security cameras. But consciously not shooting directly at people. But if, in fact, the gunman was with other people, that adds a whole other kind of dimension into this, Kevin.
FLANAGAN: No. Absolutely. Even the psychology of how you're approaching this. If what we were -- we were initially thinking a guy who kind of get himself up possibly for a battle is different mindset on the search here. This sounds that there were a couple of people, they were in the mall. They -- my take on it is they may have ducked into what they believed was a dead corner without camera sight, changed into this -- their attire and then took out the cameras on the way back which is a completely different mindset when you start doing this type of search. The first that we spoke of I would think that person is going to be entrenched and ready for battle.
COOPER: Those are mannequins. Just clearly. Obviously it's a strange picture when you see it like that. Obviously you see an officer in tactical gear with mannequins facing outward in the camera in the window.
We are going to try to reshow you that interview because again it just -- you know, we only had one other eyewitness who saw a glimpse of the gunman and described the gunman, a young woman names Allie Cozic who -- was still hiding in a store as of 30 minutes ago, described the gunman as all in black. This person also says the gunman was all in black, wearing some sort of a helmet with some sort of visor over it.
But again, the indication that the gunman may have been -- or the alleged gunman may have been with other people that's a -- that's frankly new to us. And again, it's one eyewitness. Take that for what it's worth. We're trying to piece this together. But all eyewitness testimony early on -- and that's what police are going on. The information that you are hearing is the same kind of information that the police are getting from all these eyewitnesses and they are trying to put together -- a picture, an accurate picture of what has actually occurred.
And the bottom line is the search is still on for this gunman and/or gunmen. We simply don't know. Believed to be still inside the mall. But again, all bets are off. We don't know for sure. We're going to take a short break and our coverage continues in a moment.
COOPER: Welcome back. Updating the breaking news. Shots fired at the largest shopping mall in the state of New Jersey. A massive complex, 311 different retailers inside this -- inside this shopping mall. Some over two million square feet of retail space alone. So far no reports of any injuries. Several reports the gunman was shooting at security cameras. Just moments ago we heard from someone who was -- who says he saw the gunman, was interviewed by our affiliate WPIX, says he may have had company, there may have been people with him before the shots rang out.
Before the break, we played a portion of what this man, Johnny Jiminez, said to CNN affiliate WPIX.
We didn't -- we missed the top of it which gives you some -- context. So we're going to -- I want to replay especially the beginning of that interview because if what he is saying is accurate that there were other people with this alleged gunmen that clearly changes the situation for law enforcement personnel as they continue to look for the shooter.
But I do want to check in with our Nic Robertson who is live on the scene.
Nic, I know you've been talking to more people who have been getting out -- getting out of the mall.
ROBERTSON: Anderson, that's right. In the last few minutes we've had a few people come out. One lady I just talked to, she was ashen faced, shaken, clearly traumatized by the situation. She had a large shopping bag in her hand. She worked in the Tumi store. She had been in there along when the shooting started. She'd taken cover and hidden in the store, she told me by herself. A very scare situation.
I asked her how many shots could she count being fired. She thought about it for a moment and then she said very carefully. She believed it was five shots that she had heard. And she took cover. And only in the last few minutes was released by the security, by the police to come out of the shopping mall.
I talked to a couple people who have been in the GNC store. They also had been released by the police, found a secure way out of the building, walking across the car park here. They didn't seem quite as shaken. There were at least two of them together in that store. So perhaps for them having people there with them, that gave them a little chance to talk about the situation and not to be so afraid.
But for the lady who was in the Tumi store by herself, clearly very, very shaken by the situation. She had heard five shots and she was traumatized by what she had through. But what we are seeing is that the police slowly working their way through the stores inside the mall, releasing people out of one side of the shopping mall here -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Nic, we have talked to, as you know, a number of different people, some of whom are still inside the mall. And again, you know, these eyewitness reports, some -- one person had told us she heard four shots, another person said eight shots. So the exact number we frankly do not know. But all of them, all of the eyewitnesses and all of those who only heard the shots and didn't actually see any gunmen also report that it wasn't shots in rapid sequence. It was one shot and a gap of 15 to 30 seconds and then another shot.
We are getting pictures taken inside the mall from the "National Review's" Katherine Jean Lopez. This is the first I'm seeing this image and sort of -- I'm trying to see what it shows. It's not particularly distinct.
I do want -- you see two people on the ground, it looks like, in this. But -- and it looks like they are on some sort of mobile devices. So looks like people perhaps hiding or just trying to stay down. That image we got off Twitter.
I do want to go back to that interview with a man by the name of Johnny Jiminez given -- given to WPIX. The reason we want to replay it is because this is the first suggestion we have heard from anybody who was inside that mall that there may have been people with the shooter before, at least, the shots rang out.
Not -- I believe -- multiple gunmen, but people who were with the shooter before shots rang out. Exactly -- we didn't hear the top of that interview. That's why we've re-wounded all the way the beginning. And we're going to replay. Let's listen carefully.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. So you were in the Navy, you were telling me. You were with Enrique. Tell me what you saw and what you heard.
JIMINEZ: OK. So I came to get my phone -- you mean, Enrique, the one who fixed my phone or no?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: No, no.
JIMINEZ: OK. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tell me what you saw and what you heard. JIMINEZ: OK. So I came to the mall, you know, to get this phone fixed and the guy who fixed my phone also saw this guy because I was -- I was just with him. So I saw five guys together. OK. I noticed them for whatever reason. You know, you're walking through the mall, you notice some people. I didn't think anything of it at all. You know, they were wearing coats. One guy I remember -- at least one guy was wearing a double hoodie. And I noticed because I was like, that guy has two hoodies on like me.
So they just -- they looked determined, whatever. I didn't care. I just kept walking, kept to my thing, I was -- exiting the mall, I was at AT&T and -- well, yes, I was actually in the mall and we stopped at AT&T real quick. I mean, is there anything specific you want to know? Because the pretty long -- yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tell me -- tell it all.
JIMINEZ: OK. OK. So at this point -- OK, so, the moment -- we ran into AT&T. Right? Because my friend was like OK, let's go to AT&T. I was like, dude, I really got to go. And to prove a point, I was like, I'm going to wait out here, right? Just go see if you have an upgrade or whatever. And I'll wait out here. So this guy comes around the corner, so sleek, just footsteps, helmet, looked to my direction, I saw him, I saw him, I was like that's the guy that was with the other guys with -- holding the helmet. He said this guy has an assault rifle in his hands. And I think --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You clearly -- as an assault rifle.
JIMINEZ: I was in the U.S. Navy. I know what an assault rifle looks like, you know. I don't know if it was fully automatic or semiautomatic. But that he shot it. OK. And he was trying to take out cameras. OK. And I saw that. I saw him literally shoot it and try to take out cameras. So now the main thing is he wasn't shooting anybody, not around me. Maybe hurt some people. I don't know. But, you know, I didn't see him do any of that. He looked determined. He looked like his motives were very serious. But again --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Like he knew exactly what he wanted to do.
JIMINEZ: Yes. It wasn't some, you know, killing --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It wasn't random.
JIMINEZ: It wasn't a killing spree. He would have killed me. Literally. I was -- he would have sprayed me. It was done. You know. And then after that, everyone. The women got scared and not everyone had a place to run in the back. Sort of like I was convenient -- we went to the back of the store. Some people were hiding behind like the clothes and shit -- I mean not for nothing. You know, for lack of better term.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Please watch your language. JIMINEZ: Yes. No, no. Honestly, like, you know, I just thank God that I'm out here right now and I'm not in there. And I think getting shots fired at me, you know --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But let me back up. You saw more than one gunman?
JIMINEZ: I saw more than one person that was with him. And yes, there was multiple guns. There was multiple -- again I say pieces of metal. Because at the time there was no way and I've seen a gun, and there is no way that I was going to accept the fact that there was people just holding guns right in front of me and at the end of the hallway. You know?
And just huddled together. And it was the guys. I'm telling you. There was a -- there was a motorcycle helmet, there was a free hand in this one, no gun. I mean, no gun. That was the same exact guy that had a gun later and that was shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. So you saw what this man looked like before he put on the helmet. Describe him to me.
JIMINEZ: Exactly. OK. So they were all the same. They were -- they were all looking like me. You know, I mean, like a lighter brown skin color. Literally could have passed for like some Italian background, Italian genetics or Hispanic genetics. I can't really expand more on that. All of them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All short facial hair, glasses, anything?
JIMINEZ: My height give or take.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: About 5'8", 5'9"?
JIMINEZ: Yes. Literally like just looking like -- just looking like very similar in a way, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Combat boots? What kind of shoes?
JIMINEZ: Boots like maybe construction boots. Again, I really don't want to go through into detail because I didn't care about them -- like if I would have known at that moment that those were the guys, you know, that were going to cause all this, I would tell everything, I would have like, you know, taken a mental picture.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, trust me, you're giving us a pretty good account.
JIMINEZ: Yes. Well, hopefully. OK, so, is there anything else? Do you like -- this one -- this one kind of trips me out a little bit. So all right. So we're in the AT&T store and we come out. Now this is -- by we, I mean three people. There's like 30 back there. Employees and clients and random people that were in the hallway.
So we go out, me and these three guys, just checking out because people were kind of making jokes like I got to get home. And I was like, really, like, like I got to get home. You know, let's see what's going on. So we kind of walked out. Creep out a little bit. And then we just don't really see anything. It looks pretty calm. We get all the way to the window of the AT&T store and we see like some -- like some two dudes over there. Some guy. That could have been, like the five guys. It could have been them. No guns. I didn't see any guns on them. Because I was looking for the gun at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But they looked like they were with the gunman?
JIMINEZ: They looked like they could have possibly been the guys that were with the gunman. Right. So, all right, so at this point on -- OK. So -- oh god. Wait. Where was I in the story? I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You saw the guys standing over against the wall.
JIMINEZ: OK. Yes. So they cut the corner real quick and then like literally seconds after like a guy dressed like here, like dressed like the security people right here, literally it may have been him and literally goes two gunmen, get in the store. So we literally got in the store and we waited for like another 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. I mean, I don't know why.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that's the interview with the -- with Johnny Jiminez. We're breaking into it because we already played the tail end of it there. But some significant information there and I'm here with Kevin Flanagan, formerly with the New York Police Department, now with RYDAN Security and Investigations.
According to him, and this is the only eyewitness who we heard this from, the only other eyewitness I talked to said she saw the gunman who still hunkered down in the -- in the store where she was, said she saw one gunman dressed in black with some sort of a weapon calmly walking by her location, walking in a straight line. And then she heard some more shots after the person passed by her store.
This man, Johnny Jiminez, says that he actually saw the person he believes to be that gunman earlier on in the store with a group of five people together. So five guys, including the alleged gunman. One guy had on a double hoodie with a look determined and with a helmet under his arm. And then later on saw the person wearing that same motorcycle helmet dressed in black with what he described as an assault rifle. He said he didn't know if it was semiautomatic or fully automatic.
He said he was in the Navy and therefore is familiar with weaponry. But very pointedly said it was not a killing spree. That he was shooting at security cameras. He said he saw that and that if it was a killing spree he would be dead because he was in the line of fire or what would have been the line of fire if this guy was out to kill people and this guy did see him.
What do you make of this, Kevin? I mean it's certainly -- it's unclear, frankly what the situation is.
FLANAGAN: No, you would look for a purpose, a statement, something, it's just bizarre. Frankly, Johnny there is very lucky that he wasn't shot. But the purpose or what the culpability in somebody's head to do something like this and not have an apparent purpose is just mind- boggling.
COOPER: And again, we don't know for sure if there was a group of five people and this alleged gunman was one of them. If there were multiple people or if this person just mistakenly thought he saw this person with a group of people and assumed they were all together. Still a lot to be determined. But again, this is the kind of information. This is the kind of chaotic situation that the police are dealing with. Police trying to interview each of these people as they leave to try to get a sense of what they're dealing with.
Because it seems like, at this late hour, and again we are now two plus hours into this. We're about two and a half hours since shots began ringing out inside that mall near the Nordstrom, so just outside the Nordstrom and it is not clear at this point what police are dealing with.
We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in just a moment.
COOPER: Coming up at the top of the hour thankfully there are still no reports of injuries from the Garden State Plaza, the scene of a shooting at just about 9:20 Eastern Time.
With us now is Richard Labarbiera, mayor of the Paramus Borough.
Mr. Mayor, appreciate you joining us on this difficult circumstances. What's the latest information you have about what occurred inside that mall?
LABARBIERA: All right, well, first of all let me get across the most important message I can deliver right now is that everybody in the mall is well. There has been no injuries. What we know is that there was a single, at least a single shot fired. A single shell has been recovered. They do not believe that the person that fired that shot is in the mall any longer. However, we have locked down the mall and we have police officers from all agencies in the area working together to evacuate everybody in a safe and orderly way.
COOPER: You say one single casing was recovered. There had been multiple people we have talked to, have been inside the mall who said they heard anywhere from four to eight shots. I assume you've heard those reports as well. You just simply can't confirm for sure whether there was more than one.
LABARBIERA: Yes. I've -- I've heard everything from two to three pops. But have heard but the truth of the matter is they have only recovered a single casing. So therefore they only have a confirmed single shot. COOPER: OK. There was just an eyewitness who was on WPIX who insists that he saw an alleged gunman earlier in the mall with several other people, with four other people, that ultimately he put on a motorcycle helmet and fired some shots. Is -- do you have any information about who the shooter is -- who the alleged shooter is, whether he was alone or with other people?
LABARBIERA: We have no details that can be released at this time. It is an active investigation. It is no longer an active shooting scene, however, it is an active investigation and they are putting together all those bits and pieces. They are interviewing several people who was heard -- and have heard similar type stories as to what you just said.
COOPER: And if -- you're saying it's the belief that the shooter is no longer inside that mall.
LABARBIERA: That is what the belief is at this point. That is correct.
COOPER: Is that more worrying to you than if the shooter was still inside the --
LABARBIERA: I'm sorry?
COOPER: Is it is more worrying that the shooter is no longer inside the mall?
LABARBIERA: That's what the police officers and people believe at this time, that he did get out a door. That is correct.
COOPER: Do you know if law enforcement has a sense of who the alleged gunman is?
LABARBIERA: There are no details at this time.
LABARBIERA: It is an active case in there. A lot of details that are unfolding and I would not have even been out here if not for wanting to let everybody know that -- who might have somebody that's working in the store, that is here visiting, et cetera, that they are fine and everyone is OK. They might be here for a while as we get them out because again the mall is locked down. We have hundreds of police officers.
This is something that we train for quite often and I want to ensure everybody at home that their family members, friends, et cetera are in good hands.
COOPER: That's the most important thing and I don't want to put you on the spot. Obviously it's an active investigation so I don't want to try to draw anything out of you.
LABARBIERA: Of course.
COOPER: Mr. Mayor, I do appreciate your time.
LABARBIERA: No, I -- I appreciate that.
LABARBIERA: I appreciate that.
COOPER: All right. We'll continue to stay on this. Mr. Mayor, take care and our best to all your law enforcement officers who are risking their lives right now.
Again, no injuries. That's the bottom line. No sign neither the shooter is still in the mall. The mayor said it is -- it's no longer an active shooting scene. However, it is an active crime scene and an active investigation is underway.
Massive police presence still on scene. We just learned the FBI has also arrived. We of course continue to follow developments. That's all for our coverage right now at this hour. I want to thank Kevin Flanagan for his experience and joining us, as well as Mike Brooks. CNN will be live all night as needed, continuing to follow on developments as needed.
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