The 20-year-old gunman who took his own life at the Garden State Plaza in November had been one of the targets of an undercover police drug operation in Hackensack 10 days before he took a .22 caliber rifle into the mall, nj.com reported Wednesday. According to the report, Richard Shoop, of Teaneck, was one of more than 160 people nabbed in the undercover narcotics sweep, and might have feared a pending arrest before his suicide.
Hackensack Police, the report said, began eyeing Shooop as part of a ring of drug dealers that imported raw materials from China and made their own Molly, a form of ecstasy. Shoop was found to have Molly in his system when he killed himself, authorities said.
Shoop was arrested in April of last year when he delivered the drug in a Hackensack park, and sold Molly to an undercover officer on Oct. 24 - ten days before the incident at Garden State Plaza, the report said.
Shoop's friends also told nj.com that a few hours before the shooting, the gunman had told them he knew police had been "watching him," and told one friend that he would leave her his car in her will.
On Nov. 4, Shoop entered the mall with the rifle and fired several shots, which triggered a massive police response. Several hours later, cops found his body dead in a secluded section of the shopping center. Authorities have said they don't believe Shoop had intended to hurt anyone other than himself in the shooting.
Hackensack police announced the results of the undercover drug operation Tuesday, which officials said was the largest of its kind in the city's history, the report said.