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Fallen Displays Blamed for Recent Garden State Plaza Panic

Noises mistaken for gunshots led to a frenzied exodus of shoppers and mall employees at Garden State Plaza mall Saturday night. Paramus Police determined that the sound of several store displays being knocked over during the evacuation proved the source of the loud noises.

On May 10, at approximately 8:00 p.m., a car fire next to the Macy’s at Westfield Garden State Plaza was reported to the Paramus Police Department. Smoke penetrated the northeast doors of Macy’s and those inside were advised to evacuate that section of the store. During the evacuation, a large metal display stanchion was knocked over, resulting in a loud noise similar to a gunshot.

The sound triggered widespread terror, with crowds rushing out of Macy’s from both the main and lower levels. An additional display was knocked over, resulting in more loud noises. At this time, Paramus Police received numerous calls of shots being fired in the mall and the mall was placed in lock down. With assistance from the New Jersey State Police, the Bergen County Police and other surrounding jurisdictions, Paramus Police cleared the entire shopping center by midnight, definitively confirming that no gunshots were ever fired. Several patrons reported suffering minor injures during the evacuation. The mall restaurants and movie theater resumed normal operations the following day.

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