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Woodbridge Mall Shooting

March 9, 2012 by staff 

Woodbridge Mall Shooting, Early shoppers arriving at the Woodbridge Center Mall Friday morning were greeted by a heavy presence of police cars patrolling the largely empty parking lot in the wake of Thursday night’s fatal shooting of a hostage-taker.

The still-unnamed suspect was shot and killed by an off-duty Woodbridge police officer early Thursday evening in an incident that sent shoppers and employees fleeing the Sears store there in terror.

Mall employees interviewed Friday morning confirmed reports that the suspect had been confronted by police after an apparent shoplifting attempt in the Hollister Co. clothing store on the second level of the mall and then fled toward the nearby Sears entrance, where he grabbed a woman and held her at knifepoint, in the electronics department there.

“Woodbridge police reported that after repeated warnings, the officer fired at the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Woodbridge Police Director Robert Hubner said in a joint statement issued last night.

Kaplan and Hubner said that the off-duty officer, whose identity was also being withheld, was “in uniform and working an extra-duty job at the mall, was dispatched to a store at the mall after receiving a report of a disturbance” and “observed an individual with a knife.”

“The individual, upon observing the officer, fled, and a foot chase pursued. After a brief pursuit, the suspect grabbed a female shopper and threatened her with a knife, according to the preliminary report by Woodbridge police.”

The authorities did not release the name of the man who was killed, nor the female hostage, who was unharmed.

The mall was open but quiet on Friday morning and several early shoppers appeared surprised to hear about the events of the previous night.

Justin Raceles, of Rahway, came out of Sears carrying a new mop Friday morning. “I had no idea it happened,” he said of the shooting. “It’s doesn’t matter, I’ll still shop here.”

“Wow! I had no idea,” said John Silva, of Cranford, after carrying bags from the mall to his car. “I’ve been shopping here for 40 years. It won’t stop me.” Then he turned around and went back into Sears.

Alvara Perez of Linden, also outside the mall Friday, expressed shock at news of the Thursday night incident. “I was just shopping here,” he said. “I have a friend in Roselle who told me that two people were murdered on the street next to her last night. What’s going on?”

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