Rabbi Shmuley Boteach tweeted throughout a standoff with a gunman at the Garden State Mall in New Jersey, while his daughter and wife took cover inside.
Boteach and three of his children were entering the mall to meet his wife and daughter near closing time on Monday night when mall patrons streamed through the doors shouting that there was a shooter in the mall.
Boteach ran with his children to safety, and then called his wife to learn that they were holed up in a storage closet in one of the stores.
“Terror here at garden state mall in NJ and I know people inside. I left with my kids and now outside. Please pray,” Boteach tweeted. He did not indicate that his wife and daughter were among those inside until they were rescued.
The gunman, identified as Richard Shoop, 20, entered the mall just before 9:30 p.m. and fired the gun at random targets, His body was found early Tuesday morning in a storage area in the mall. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, state officials said.
Shoop reportedly shot in the air and told those left in the mall that he did not want to hurt anyone.
Boteach’s wife and daughter were evacuated by a SWAT team about 90 minutes after the shooting began.
In a personal essay written after the incident, Boteach said that newly elected N.J. Sen. Cory Booker, who is his close friend, called as his wife was being rescued to inquire about her well-being. Boteach had texted the senator to inform him of the standoff.
“Still can’t sleep. have given up trying,” Boteach tweeted several hours after the incident.