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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."

Join the discussion

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kendelvalle January 26 2014 at 4:20 PM

Hanguns are small and easily concealable. Those not qualified to purchse or possess one can get one on the black market.

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1 reply
racjaa kendelvalle January 26 2014 at 4:33 PM

Actually you can make one pretty easily. Nothing fancy just the basics.

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LacuevaKnl January 26 2014 at 3:59 PM

I'm no resident of the area but I'd be willing to bet (since both are from College Park) that there was a romantic involvement at some point between Aguillar and the victim, Brianna, and that the 25 yr old victim, Johnson, was Brianna's latest romantic involvement.

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dewlady357 January 26 2014 at 3:58 PM

So this murdering S O B "roamed the halls" for almost an HOUR, carrying a shotgun and nobody noticed? WTF???? People are so damned weird anymore. They probably thought he was taking the gun in for repairs? I'm ever so glad the bas**rd is dead. Saves the state a lot of money working thru the phoney attorneys and shrinks who would undoubtably say "oh the poor boy had mental problems" and he'd have gotten off like that murdering b**ch in Florida. Or that James Holmes creep in Colorado or Sandy Hook, Columbine, etc etc. I'm never sorry (as sad as it may seem) to see where a murderer has offed himself. Too damn bad those other ones mentioned didn't off themselves. I, quite frankly, hope they all burn in hell! And for all you sob sisters out there who say I'm heartless...sit and spin! I couldn't care less!

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1 reply
jenny` news dewlady357 January 26 2014 at 4:22 PM

I agree with you 100% if the Republicans had not snuck that gun bill through without the need for longer waits for investigating people buying guns maybe just maybe this creep could have beeen reported for asking to buy the gun. as i understand the article he bought the gunthat day..
Like dewlady said he would have gotton off like that piece of **** who killed 4 people while drunk because he came from a rich family he was never taught right from wrong.
I think 45 years in prison would have taught him alot.
My prayers go out to the famillies of the two innocent young people killed. May they rest in peace.
Makes me really wonder about religion and a God...

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1 reply
marcanagnos jenny` news January 26 2014 at 4:51 PM

So instead it would happen a week from now. Main thing is stores should be armed like it used to be. It's still legal for the owner to be armed in his store. Problem is noone owns a store anymore, it's all a chain with headquarters somewhere else.


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rongravy January 26 2014 at 1:47 PM

Our society has created a bunch of nut jobs. At this point we apparently have no clue as to what motivated this senseless killing. And in a way the motive is irrelevant. People have anger issues and problems every day. That does not mean that you go out and shoot someone. Young people in particular are surrounded by violence everyday through movies, games, drugs and television etc. A sense of morality and responsibility is lacking in them as the craziness increases.

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2 replies
Elizabeth rongravy January 26 2014 at 1:56 PM

You have said it very well. Movies and TV are not only pandering to the violence men love but actually encouring it. Everywhere in the media we have a gun culture that settles problems with the use of them.

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iwascreated1 rongravy January 26 2014 at 2:11 PM

And they're increasing... Prior to the crazies acting out, they must have heard, read or watched on television about other shooting and killings...How these people leave their conscience behind is beyond me...

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Say NO to libs! January 26 2014 at 3:58 PM

My sympathy to the family of the victims. We live in a dangerous world and this senselessness could happen to any of us. I don't understand it.

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noknrc January 26 2014 at 6:12 PM

Here is an interesting comment6 for all the anti gun liberals
If you look at most gun crimes. They are committed with cities whee all laws are ignored or not enforced. They are committed in gun free zones, movies, malls, schools and even courthouse.
You say less guns is the answer.
how come you never here of a gun related crime taking place at a gun show or gun store.
Is it maybe because most stores and gun show dealers e fully armed.
Most of the dealers in my area have their employees wearing a sidearm. The min dealer I use ,who is a retired federal officer, keeps loaded gun within his reach and out of your reach. He also has a helper who is armed

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Street Stocker January 26 2014 at 7:08 PM

We have to screen people before having children.If you are stupid and IQ is way down.ASorry,no kids for you.We do not these kinds of people.Its gotta stop

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3 replies
rhattate January 26 2014 at 4:21 PM

it is really depressing to read about another shooting. i pray for the comunity and the family of 5the victims

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NMBHOTDOG January 26 2014 at 3:57 PM

Our educational system has been Liberalized and trashed. Our children are being told by the current Administration that they are owed a living instead of a work ethic. When this doesn't happen, and all they have to do with their time is sit around and stew about their plight. Copycat what the liberal media runs into the ground. A Liberal Zombie Apocalypse. These same people can be seen looting after a disaster.

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2 replies
ncedwards2002 NMBHOTDOG January 26 2014 at 4:06 PM

nmbhotdog, you are stupid if you believe what you just wrote above, the biggest problem in this country is that every nut cake can walk into any gun store and purchase enough fire power to kill a dozen people. It doesn't have a damn thing to do with sitting around stewing about having a job or not... God, we have a nation of idiots!

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2 replies
NMBHOTDOG ncedwards2002 January 26 2014 at 4:15 PM

We Do have lots of nuts. Don't know where they're all coming from. This being said, use our schools, doctors, parents and every citizen to point out something that looks horribly wrong. Unfortunately that's not happening. Until then, I will carry to protect me and my family, if heaven forbid that ever happens. Otherwise background checks need to be much more extensive and in my state, under 21 can't purchase weapons as in this case. Unfortunately all access to any weapon, be it a bomb or what can't be totally policed. So, I'll choose to protect myself. Waiting for the police is too long.

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yazzgc ncedwards2002 January 26 2014 at 4:59 PM

You sound like the real Idiot. Show me where anyone wanting to buy a gun can just go in a gun store and buy a gun????? My own experence is First I had to sign an agreement for the law to check my mential backround then agree to a FBI backround ,local police check ,statecheck, 2 refewrances with telephone numbers and had to answer to local police in writing then wait for about 2 months to see if i was allowed to purchase a fire arm. After all that if I was found to be able to purchace and had previously had a firearm I D CARD i COULD GO TO A GUN STORE TO PURCHASING ONE. After selecting a fire arm giving my permit to purchace that I was ginen at my local polic dept.,the gun dealer had to call in for a fedearl ID check the fire arm serial number and and rest of the paper work was sent to the STATE DEP{T. handeling fire arms all this took about 3 months. A criminal probaly can get a deadly weapon in about 2 hours at some inner city street corner then if a crime is commeted with it probaly will get off by plea bargening to a lesser crime. Prosecutors and alot of police dept especially in inner city's are lazy or overworke by the type of people that live there.

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David NMBHOTDOG January 26 2014 at 4:08 PM

I've said it for a long time, if you REWALLY want to stop killings and these shootings, STOP Liberals from being able to own a weapon of ANY kind. Everytime this happens it turns out its always a Liberal nutjob.

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igory87 January 26 2014 at 3:57 PM

its always someone who is 19 or 21 or 23 years old. its these kids these days. they're all crazy

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1 reply
David igory87 January 26 2014 at 4:11 PM

No, our system hasnt taught them how to deal with emotions. They've been coddled all of their lives and now they have to find REALLITY on their own and cant deal with the Liberal REALLITY. Just another statistic of Liberal teachings gone wrong.

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