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Car Fire, Toppled Store Displays Stir 'Cascade of Panic' at Garden State Plaza

Loud noises of fallen displays inside Macy's were mistaken as gunshots Saturday night.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo
A car fire followed by toppled store displays sparked a "cascade of panic" and false reports of gunfire Saturday night at the Garden State Plaza.

The loud bangs some customers believed were gun shots and initial law enforcement reports indicated were popping tires from a burning car in the mall's parking lot were actually the sounds of fallen metal display stanchions in Macy's.

According to Paramus police, the sequence of events began when a car caught on fire outside of Macy's and smoke seeped into the northeast doors of the store at about 8:10 p.m. Saturday.

Store personnel advised customers to move out of that section of the store. As shoppers were evacuating the area, a large metal display stanchion on the store's main level toppled to the floor, according to police.

"This large noise, which might have sounded similar to a gunshot, caused a cascade of panic and more people began to quickly evacuate the area," a police statement said.

As customers stormed out of the store, another large display located on the lower level of Macy's was also knocked over causing additional loud noises, police said.

With the mall and movie theater full of people, police received "numerous" calls of shots being fired.

Multiple agencies, including the Paramus, Bergen County and New Jersey State Police departments, responded to the scene, cleared the entire mall and confirmed no shots had been fired.

The last of the locked down stores was searched and cleared by midnight. Several customers suffered minor injuries during the dash to evacuate, police said.

This was the second time in less than a year panic has rushed through the Garden State Plaza. A 20-year-old Teaneck man opened fire last November inside the mall before committing suicide.
David Sudranski May 12, 2014 at 08:35 AM
Most of those people stampeding out of the mall like a herd of confused livestock probably don't have a clue what a real gunshot sounds like. They only know what they see or hear in movies. Sad!
kevin May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM
Or maybe they remember the gunman that was running around the mall last November. I think they know what a REAL gunshot sounds like. Both comments before me are sad and judgemental. But typical for these types of forums...
David Sudranski May 12, 2014 at 11:01 AM
So its ok to stampede and injure other people Because you remember that someone once shot a place up and you THINK you heard gun shots. If people in NJ were not so afraid of guns and handled them more often they wouldn't panic, run and hurt orhers, knock things over and cause others who don't know what a gun shot sounds like to panic and also run and knock things over. .. you get where I'm going with this?
Teaneck_Resident May 12, 2014 at 12:10 PM
NJ Liberals will now write a law banning display racks from falling or sounding like gun shots to those that do not know what gun shots sound like.
TomW May 12, 2014 at 12:55 PM
What is really sad is the public have the George Costanza mentality.

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