A car fire in the parking lot of New Jersey's largest mall terrified shoppers who thought they'd heard gunshots, sparking a scare that brought a massive police presence to the scene and forcing an evacuation of the building.
Panicked shoppers, diners and moviegoers at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J. began running and calling 911 after hearing loud noises that sounded like gunfire, according to multiple law enforcement officials.
Police and federal agents swarmed the mall and evacuated the building. They found no evidence of a shooting, and after an investigation officials determined that evacuees knocked over two large metal display stanchions, creating loud noises, which may have sounded similar to gunshots.
The Garden State Plaza was the site of a shooting last November in which the mall was locked down as a 20-year-old gunman prowled the building, firing his gun into the air. He was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound; no one else was hurt.