No arrests after American Dream mall shooting hospitalizes man
EAST RUTHERFORD — The American Dream is open as usual Friday following a shooting Thursday evening that locked down the facility.
Police have not announced any arrests or explained the motive for the shooting that left a man in the hospital with serious injuries.
Police from around North Jersey responded to the entertainment and shopping complex in the Meadowlands around 5:50 p.m. Thursday.
Shoppers and those at the indoor amusement areas sheltered in place as police looked for a gunman and potential victims.
New Jersey State Police said only one male was shot and their investigation determined there was only one gunman.
There is no threat to the public and State Police believe the shooting was an isolated incident.
American Dream said there will be an increased police and security presence at the complex on Friday.
"The safety and security of our guests, tenants and team members continues to be our top priority," the mall said in a written statement.
Dinner at American Dream
The Greater Bergan Association of Realtors annual dinner was just getting underway in the area of the mall called The Avenue anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue when phones began to buzz about something going on. It was their first dinner in two years.
Fara Espandi, with ERA Justin Realty in Rutherford, and a co-worker arrived a little early and parked in a spot close to the entrance. As they were walking to the party, Espandi got a chilling phone call from another co-worker.
"He said, 'Leave — There's a shooting happening here,'" Espandi told New Jersey 101.5. "We all got scared and wondered what was going on, what's happening. Nobody at the party knew what was going on. They didn't announce anything. Little by little we all got an alert from Rutherford police and it said there was a shooting happening."
Mall security and police told everyone the mall was being locked down and ushered them towards the Saks Fifth Avenue store.
"I and a few of my co-workers were closer to the other door so we went to the car. Everybody left their jackets," Espandi said. "It was chaos. The police with the dogs came they told everyone to evacuate, everybody go lockdown. They closed the whole place."
She and her co-workers made it slowly off the mall property and regrouped at an East Rutherford restaurant. The co-workers who locked down inside Saks told her they were allowed out of the store at 10 p.m.
Espandi said she was on the fence about going to the dinner because of her lingering concerns about large crowds,
"I said, 'All right, let's go.' If we don't worry about COVID then something else is going to happen," Espandi joked.