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 in The Avenue wing of American Dream 4//7/22
Dinner set up in The Avenue wing of American Dream 4//7/22 (Fara Espandi)

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.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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NJ county fairs make a comeback: Check out the schedule for 2022

UPDATED 4/10: A current list of county fairs happening across the Garden State for 2022. From rides, food, animals, and hot air balloons, each county fair has something unique to offer.

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

School aid for all New Jersey districts for 2022-23

The state Department of Education announced district-level school aid figures for the 2022-23 school year on Thursday, March 10, 2022. They're listed below, alphabetically by county. For additional details from the NJDOE, including specific categories of aid, click here.

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