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Police identify gunman in Maryland mall shooting

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) -- Police have identified the gunman in the Maryland mall shooting as a 19 year old from suburban Washington.

Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said Darion Marcus Aguilar of College Park, Md., arrived at the mall shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday armed with a Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun and used it to kill two people at a store on the upper level of the Mall of Columbia before killing himself.

McMahon said police are trying to determine whether Aguilar knew either of the victims.

Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo of College Park, Md., and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Ellicott City, Md. Both worked at a skateboard shop called Zumiez.

It took hours to identify the shooter since he was carrying ammunition and a backpack and police thought he may have had explosives, McMahon said. When the body was searched, police found crude homemade explosives in the backpack.

Police Identify Gunman in Maryland Mall Shooting, Motive Unclear

"When we originally found the shooter, he still had a lot of ammunition on his person," McMahon said at a news conference Sunday morning.

McMahon said he didn't know if Aguilar had a criminal record. No motive has been given for the shooting.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions," McMahon said.

Very few details were released about Aguilar. He apparently lived with his mother in the suburb of College Park, where University of Maryland is located. McMahon didn't know if Aguilar was a student there.

According to McMahon, Aguilar purchased the shotgun last month at a shop in neighboring Montgomery County.

Aguilar took a taxi to the mall and roamed its halls before shots rang out within an hour. Police arrived at the scene just 2 minutes after a 911 call came into authorities at 11:15 a.m. When they arrived, they found three bodies at the Zumiez skateboard shop on the upper level.

Five others were injured in the midmorning shooting and its aftermath. All had been released from hospitals by Saturday evening. Only one person was injured by gunfire.

"This was a very scary incident," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said. "There were a lot of people very close to where this happened."

Earlier, McMahon praised mall patrons for doing the right thing by sheltering in place and not stampeding toward the exits.

"We actually have drilled on this in the past and that experience has been very beneficial to us," McMahon said Saturday.

A news release Saturday night said police found and disabled "two crude devices that appeared to be an attempt at making explosives using fireworks." Police were searching the mall with dogs overnight, which is standard procedure, and the mall was to remain closed through Tuesday.

Joan Harding of Elkridge, Md., was shopping with her husband, David, for a tiara for their granddaughter's 18th birthday. She said she heard something heavy falling, followed by gunshots and people running.

"My husband said, `Get down!' and the girl that worked in the store said, `Get in the back,'" Harding said. That is where they hid until police searched the mall and signaled it was safe to leave.

The shooting took place around 11:15 a.m. Saturday at a shop called Zumiez, which sells skateboards, clothing and accessories. The company's chief executive, Rick Brooks, said it was making counseling available for employees in the area.

McMahon said at a news conference that authorities had difficulty identifying the gunman because of concerns he was carrying explosives and were proceeding with an "abundance of caution." By late Saturday, police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but declined to release his name while they followed up on leads.

Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo of College Park, Md., and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Ellicott City, Md. Both worked at Zumiez.

Benlolo's grandfather, John Feins, said in a telephone interview from Florida that his granddaughter had a 2-year-old son and that the job at Zumiez was her first since she went back to work after her son's birth.

"She was all excited because she was the manager there," he said.

He said he had spoken with his daughter, Brianna's mother, earlier in the day, but didn't know who the gunman was or whether the person knew his granddaughter.

"It's senseless. It's totally, totally senseless," he said.

He described his daughter's family as a military family that had moved frequently and had been in Colorado before moving to Maryland about two years ago. He said his granddaughter was on good terms with her son's father, and they shared custody.

"I mean what can you say? You go to work and make a dollar and you got some idiot coming in and blowing people away," he said.

The mall is at the center of the town that's a suburb of both Baltimore and Washington, and it typically opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. It was busy with shoppers and employees when the shots rang out before noon.

Tonya Broughton of Silver Spring, Md., was with a friend getting facials for a "girls' morning out," she said. "The only thing I heard was all the people running and screaming and saying `There's a shooter! There's a shooter!'" she said.

Wearing a gel face mask, she and her friend hid in a Victoria's Secret store, as her anxious thoughts turned to her family.

People were directed out of the mall and into a parking lot, where some boarded a bus and others walked toward their cars. Police cars blocked off various entrances to the mall as SWAT officers and law enforcement vehicles gathered in the expansive parking lot. Some people were seen crying and hugging and at least one woman was carrying a baby. Detectives interviewed witnesses as they emerged from the mall.

Laura McKindles of Columbia works at a kiosk in the mall. She said she heard between eight and 10 gunshots, followed by people running and screaming. She ran into the backroom of a perfume store and locked the door.

Allison Cohen, who works at the apparel store Lucky Brand Jeans, said she always felt safe at the mall.

"I truly never thought something like this would ever happen here," Cohen said. "It's really, really shocking."

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ssshepse January 26 2014 at 11:02 PM

I recently viewed a dicumentary about J. E. Salenger and his novel "A Cather In The Rye" on PBS . It seems that the book may have provided motivation for the murder (or attempted murder) of Pres. Regan, John Lennon and another individual. Each of these disturbed persons had on their person a copy of the book. It seems that the book influenced the behavior of these individual in some way to carry out their violent acts.
I believe that the increasing violence of individuals might be associated with the increasing bombardmet of the developing youthful mind from todays media.. Thousands of youth may have read Salinger's bookin the 50's with only a few misguided minds motivated to violent action. Contrast that with the current millions being exposed to the negative effects of todays movies, television and internet media. If the negative behavior can be atributed to this increased exposure then the we shouldn't be surprised at the increase in violent acts.. Perhaps our more learned psychiatric professional and academic leaders can expound on this premises.
At age 83, I cannot help but think that this exposure is having an effect on the developement of the youthful mind. Then again, had this violent act accured in the l930's and 40's I may have never heard about it unless my parents read it in the newspaper and commented on it. But there were 66 homicides in my city in 2013 when I doubt that there were 6 in 1040. And many households had guns then too. I had a shotgun and many of my friends did also which we used to go hunting.
I doubt that guns are the root of the problem. I believe that our current adult society is not instilling the necessary dicipline in the developing brains of our children. How can it. The family structure is broken compared to the 1900's through the 1940's. In my youth it was a stigma to be divorced. Today it is common place. I also read that some 40 percent of births are by unwed
mothers and single parents are becoming as common as two parents households. In my youth there was always an adult present or close by who maintained a diciplined environmental
structure for children. That is not so today.
Call me "old fashioned" but I firmly believe that the lack of dicipline of the developing young mind to provide him or her with the skills to get along with others is crucial to reducing the viiolence in our society.
God forbid, that if our adult society defaults on this obligation to the "government" then all behavor will be heavyly regulatied by one central authority. Of course, this is called a "dictatorship".
I have wandered pretty far from this one current tragedy in expressing my views but, I leave you with the wisdom of experience that comes with age and encourage you to be leaders by example and to uphold those who teach and lead our youth by good example.

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rise_electric January 26 2014 at 10:17 PM

How long are we going to let the news get carried awaywith the news to fuel our American rights! T this is clearly a shoring done with a girlfriend screwing a manager and he got his. But the bomb and the extra ammunition ploys were added in for the want to be laws of taking away our rights. I agree this was extreme but emotions run strong in situations like this. If we didn't have guns he would have went in with chain saws. Then they would have said he had clippers and knives in a backpack.

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rjackson2a January 26 2014 at 9:09 PM

Yet another shooting in yet another gun free zone. Another liberal idea that doesn't seem to be working out to well.

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psfs031464 January 26 2014 at 9:06 PM

Another heart-wrenching story! If these nut cases want to take their own lives, so be it, but to end the lives of innocent people who did nothing to them, and who had families who loved and depended on them, is outrageous! These tragic and sad outbursts of violence and lack of respect for human life sicken me! What is wrong with these people? My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those poor innocent victims!

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Janie January 26 2014 at 8:57 PM

Why is it always about the inanimate object that doesn’t do anything instead of the wrong finger that does? Why isn’t it about the mind behind that finger? We’ve created a few generations who can’t relate to compassion, to responsibility for one’s own actions, to consequences for unacceptable behavior, or to humanity.

Unless we stop raising our kids to:
- believe that everything they do is so wonderful and deserves accolades, reward or compliment…or that anything they may want is owed to them
- spend more time with people as bits on a computer or cell phone screen rather than face-to-face,
- accept the dumbing-down of education to meet the lowest common denominator,
- disrespect, discount, scoff at or remain ignorant of sacrifice that has come before them
- blame society rather than exercising their own ability to individually and positively overcome obstacles and create change
- undermine or compromise hard-fought freedom rather than protecting, defending and bearing responsibility for it
- think that God or spiritualism or any other belief beyond themselves is without purpose or value
…we can expect this kind of violence and mental/emotional incapacity to continue making headlines. And thanks to politicians who embrace the points above and a portion of the public unwilling to think for themselves who are interested in curtailing rights by casting blame on anything and everything BUT the real reasons behind it, the solutions will remain unattainable.

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3 replies to Janie's comment
teppers111 January 26 2014 at 8:42 PM

Where is the President on this one. Why isn't this guy a kid he would want his to be like??? Where is the news media on this??? They are as racial as Jesse and the bunch. Why is it not covered as a racial killing. A black kills two whites and racial is not even mentioned. What a one sided world we live in. COME ON MEDIA, call a spade a spade.

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1 reply to teppers111's comment
piksz January 26 2014 at 8:49 PM

out playing golf or doing some fundraiser. Blaming the state of the world on the Republicans or George Bush. We don't have a leader; we have a community organizer who has never even held a job. Good selection America. Guess your wondering why everything is going to hell.

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2 replies to piksz's comment
schwoody January 26 2014 at 10:06 PM

piksz and teppers111 two RICHARD HEADS.

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classicvw January 26 2014 at 11:08 PM

Yeah right. Why don't you get a clue? Obama is getting us out of the recession that Bush got us into, and also out of two senseless wars that took over 5,000 of our brave soldiers. Oh, also the stock market's Dow Jones average has doubled since he took office. Not bad for a socialist huh? I bet you're surprised.

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David Owens January 26 2014 at 8:20 PM

Push for open or concealed carry in your area. The most effective defense is a good offense. One armed citizen could have popped him in the head right after the first shot.

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rolnutz January 26 2014 at 8:16 PM

After the shooters name was released,any cub reporter from any network could have researched a school year book picture and released his picture. Half a day later I have not seen one on any network. Maybe Sharpton and Jackson bought them all up!

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1 reply to rolnutz's comment
schwoody January 26 2014 at 10:07 PM

I guess you must be blind and stupid.

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stevessilk January 26 2014 at 8:14 PM

I was involved in a Mall shooting in '05 in NYS and was slightly wounded by the gunman... who walked right by me and fired several shots in my direction. Luckily he was just shooting at the floor and spraying random shots when he went past me. I was with my then 11 year old daughter and she was terrified... no one was killed but a Army recruiter was seriously wounded.. I have always owned weapons and never blamed the weapon but the nut case behind it.. how do you stop these people from doing their deadly deeds.. you can't because they will find any means to kill, and banning weapons from the law abiding citizens will not change anything..
I wish I had my weapon with me that day as I could have stopped it before it happened. A good guy with a gun is the best defense against a bad guy with a gun. He now has the next 25+ years to think about how he ruined a young career Army soldiers life and his own..

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slapshot9699 January 26 2014 at 8:10 PM

I saw a movie where th only the police and government had guns - it was " Schindler's List "

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